US ISPs block hacker probes: Swedish police

The Swedish National Police Board (Rikspolisstyrelsen) has called for new international laws to catch hackers on the internet, after US internet service providers refused to divulge information on the weekend's attack on government websites.

US ISPs block hacker probes: Swedish police

“The problem is that the internet is an international phenomenon and legislation is national. It’s not limited to Sweden though, it is Europe. And because most big internet providers are US based, we all have the same troubles dealing with them,” Anders Ahlqvist, IT-crimes specialist of the national police, told The Local.

As The Local reported on Saturday, Swedish group Cyberforce, part of the Swedish branch of “hacktivist” collective Anonymous, quickly claimed responsibility for a cyber attack on the websites of the Swedish government on Saturday as part of protests against anti-piracy regulations.

“According to intelligence material, the hackers’ goal was to reach the authorities through such mediums as Twitter conversations, (FRA and the national police) but none of the authorities knew of the attacks,” Ahlqvist told Sveriges Radio (SR).

The hackers succeeded in shutting down the government through a so called ‘overload attack’ where someone sends so much information that the system collapses. Now a police investigation is underway, however the work will not be quick.

“If we want information, we have to provide a subpoena from the US court, and a formal request through Sweden’s department of justice. It is extremely time-consuming, and very many of the cases are not possible to investigate,” Ahlqvist said.

“Conversely, the US faces the same problems when dealing with European courts.”

This is not the first time that the government and authorities have been attacked online, other examples in Sweden including the Pirate Bay court case, and the Julian assange rape case.

The fact that the government site went down says something about the level of safety, according to Ahlqvist.

“It unfortunately showed that the overload attacks actually work, time after time. The routines need to be looked into so that they work better,” he told SR.

Ahlqvist claims the attacks do nothing to tarnish Swedish reputation, rather, that it is a worldwide legislative problem that needs to be addressed immediately.

“We need more international agreements for a smoother system otherwise the bad guys will just keep on winning,” Ahlqvist told The Local.

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Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

The chairwoman of the Police Association West Region has said that police special tactics, known as Särskild polistaktik or SPT, should be available across Sweden, to use in demonstrations similar to those during the Easter weekend.

Calls for special police tactics to be available across Sweden

SPT, (Särskild polistaktik), is a tactic where the police work with communication rather than physical measures to reduce the risk of conflicts during events like demonstrations.

Tactics include knowledge about how social movements function and how crowds act, as well as understanding how individuals and groups act in a given situation. Police may attempt to engage in collaboration and trust building, which they are specially trained to do.

Katharina von Sydow, chairwoman of the Police Association West Region, told Swedish Radio P4 West that the concept should exist throughout the country.

“We have nothing to defend ourselves within 10 to 15 metres. We need tools to stop this type of violent riot without doing too much damage,” she said.

SPT is used in the West region, the South region and in Stockholm, which doesn’t cover all the places where the Easter weekend riots took place.

In the wake of the riots, police unions and the police’s chief safety representative had a meeting with the National Police Chief, Anders Tornberg, and demanded an evaluation of the police’s work. Katharina von Sydow now hopes that the tactics will be introduced everywhere.

“This concept must exist throughout the country”, she said.

During the Easter weekend around 200 people were involved in riots after a planned demonstration by anti-Muslim Danish politician Rasmus Paludan and his party Stram Kurs (Hard Line), that included the burning of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Police revealed on Friday that at least 104 officers were injured in counter-demonstrations that they say were hijacked by criminal gangs intent on targeting the police. 

Forty people were arrested and police are continuing to investigate the violent riots for which they admitted they were unprepared. 

Paludan’s application for another demonstration this weekend was rejected by police.

In Norway on Saturday, police used tear gas against several people during a Koran-burning demonstration after hundreds of counter-demonstrators clashed with police in the town of Sandefjord.