July 23, 2012

UK Police jails man for using a non-standard internet browser

A Londonder made a tsnuami-relief donation using lynx -- a text-based browser used by the blind, Unix-users and others -- on Sun's Solaris operating system. The site-operator decided that this "unusual" event in the system log indicated a hack-attempt, and the police broke down the donor's door and arrested him. From a mailing list:
For donating to a Tsunami appeal using Lynx on Solaris 10. BT [British Telecom] who run the donation management system misread an access log and saw hmm thats a non standard browser not identifying it's type and it's doing strange things. Trace that IP. Arrest that hacker.

Armed police, a van, a police cell and national news later the police have gone in SWAT styley and arrested someone having their lunch.

Out on bail till next week and preparing to make a lot of very bad PR for BT and the Police....

So just goes to show if you use anything other than Firefox or IE and you rely on someone else to interogate access logs or IDS logs you too could be sitting in a paper suit in a cell :(


  1. lynx is not so nonstandard a browser: i have seen it listed by Safari as a choice for alternate user agent.

    the slightest bit of research verification would have yielded this i-- o wait, the browser did not announce itself. in other words, this could have happened to anyone, even users of Internet Exploiter, if they happened to value privacy, and so concealed their browser type?

    i don't know which is more depressing, but i *do* know better than to console myself with not living at the scene of this fascist stupidity - because it could happen anywhere - and *that* is most depressing of all.

  2. lol internet EXPLOITER I see what you did there

  3. More like overzealous policeman begging to be killed over nothing.