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« Unequal and opposite reaction | Main | One for the vine »
Wednesday
Jul182012

Climategate police inquiry closes

This just in from Norfolk Constabulary (H/T Leo H)

Norfolk Constabulary has made the decision to formally close its investigation into the hacking of online data from the Climate Research Centre (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in Norwich.

The decision follows a comprehensive investigation by the force’s Major Investigation Team, supported by a number of national specialist services, and is informed by a statutory deadline on criminal proceedings.

While no criminal proceedings will be instigated, the investigation has concluded that the data breach was the result of a ‘sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet’.

Senior Investigating Officer, Detective Chief Superintendant Julian Gregory, said: “Despite detailed and comprehensive enquiries, supported by experts in this field, the complex nature of this investigation means that we do not have a realistic prospect of identifying the offender or offenders and launching criminal proceedings within the time constraints imposed by law.

“The international dimension of investigating the World Wide Web especially has proved extremely challenging.

“However, as a result of our enquiries, we can say that the data breach was the result of a sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack on the CRU’s data files, carried out remotely via the internet. The offenders used methods common in unlawful internet activity to obstruct enquiries.

“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

The security breach was reported to Norfolk Constabulary on 20 November 2009, following publication of CRU data on the internet from 17 November onwards.

An investigation was launched by the joint Norfolk and Suffolk Major Investigation Team, led by Det Chief Supt Gregory, with some support from the The Met’s Counter Terrorism Command, the National Domestic Extremism Team and the Police Central e-crime Unit, along with consultants in online security and investigation.

The investigation, code-named Operation Cabin, focused on unauthorised access to computer material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which has a three year limit on proceedings from the commission of the original offence. It has been concluded by Norfolk Constabulary, in consultation with The Met, that due to outstanding enquiries this is now an unrealistic prospect.

Norfolk Assistant Chief Constable Charlie Hall, Protective Services lead, said: “Online crime is a global issue. While law enforcement agencies continue to develop our response to emerging threats, it falls upon individuals and organisations to be alert to this and and take steps to mitigate risk as far as is practicable.”

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Reader Comments (101)

More about my chosen MA dissertation topic:
“A Discourse Analysis of Climate Change Scepticism in the UK“[..] If so, Peter Jacques (2009) would appear to be right to conclude that anti-environmentalism (i.e. environmental scepticism) needs to be exposed as being “in violation of the public interest”."

Wow... must say that some impressive circle logic... and isn't that the standard cut and paste argument of every pro-eugenics believer for the last 140+ years.

Jul 18, 2012 at 8:52 PM | Unregistered Commenterrobotech master

Could you take discussion of Martin Lack to the discussion forum please.

Jul 18, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

Ah yes Martin Lack.

A man of such intellectual integrity and probity that he reviews sceptics books without reading them and naturally gives them very low marks indeed.

Pffft.

Jul 18, 2012 at 8:55 PM | Registered Commenterg1lgam3sh

Mr Lack

There is a great deal of scientific debate going on at BH right now over on the Discussion pages. Richard Betts slugging it out with Rhoda (I am in Rhoda's corner with the sponge and the cotton buds) ably (or otherwise) assisted by BBD, Martin A et al. Why dont you join in sir?

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:01 PM | Unregistered CommenterDung

Sorry m'lud. I shall wear the hair shirt for a week.

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

When I read the header, paragraphs in it had Actonian resonance to me. Then I went to the Bishops Norfolk Constabulary hot link, and low and behold, linked onward from there was a UEA response by guess who of the same (today) date, emphasing the self same prose. Very odd. Something in the ether, no doubt.

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:08 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

Two thumbs up and V-signs to FOIA the (insider, whistleblowing) hero. You're in the clear now. Go for broke!

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterChris M

The investigation, code-named Operation Cabin, focused on unauthorised access to computer material, an offence under the Computer Misuse Act 1990, which has a three year limit on proceedings from the commission of the original offence.

If you have absolutely no idea how something happened, why would you focus on only one of two obvious possibilities?
If the material was "accessed" by someone who had authorisation then it is no surprise that Norfolk plod were not able to establish this since apparently they did not investigate it.

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM | Registered CommenterDung

The statement from the constabulary makes it clear that the United Kingdom now has the best police force that money can buy!

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlexander K

Coincidently a bird strike.

http://avherald.com/h?article=452db2d2&opt=0

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:29 PM | Unregistered Commenterclipe

I can only say....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wEolSjlcqng

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterAC1

Ah sorry Bish, my apologies.

I posted that comment before I noticed yours.

Mea Culpa.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:01 PM | Registered Commenterg1lgam3sh

[I said take it to the discussion forum please]

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartin Lack

“Operation Cabin”

Why?:-

Climate
Audit
Benefactor
I n
Norfolk

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:26 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

James Evans,
As long as you are having fun, have at it! But before you get frustrated at his intransigence, just remember that I warned you!

...and thanks Foxgoose, I like this from the dissertation topic: "...anti-environmentalism (i.e. environmental scepticism)..."
I think I just got defined out of existence (again), since I am a staunch environmentalist who happens to believe that climate change is not even in the top 10 of most pressing environmental issues.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterMatt Skaggs

Hmm. 3 year time limit only a few months away. Doha climate conference coming up in November. I could almost think they are trying to flush out leaker or hacker in saying the investigation is being closed down but if so they've blown it by also mentioning the time limit.

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Psst...

Anybody tried "Operation Cabin" as the password?

Jul 18, 2012 at 10:55 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

So Plod failed to find the culprit, even with the resources of the terrorist squad. This is a huge negative for the Police force in the fact that they cannot keep up with current technology. If you or I are 'robbed' through the Internet by unscrupulous sources then we can expect the same response as a break in at our homes.
But this is the security that we pay for, through taxation, it's becoming ever prevalent that government and political society as a whole is being left behind in this modern world, so just where do our taxes go to?

Jul 18, 2012 at 11:25 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

"Hmm. 3 year time limit only a few months away. Doha climate conference coming up in November. I could almost think they are trying to flush out leaker or hacker in saying the investigation is being closed down but if so they've blown it by also mentioning the time limit." --Gareth

There may be other offences in the fine print that have longer limits. Aggravated second degree mopery or somesuch.

Jul 18, 2012 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterjorgekafkazar

That is absolutely pathetic. It reminds me of one of those instances when their case is chucked out of court by the judge and the police snidely say, "We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this case."

They cannot substantiate any of that tripe about hacking.

Jul 18, 2012 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterOwen Morgan

"During our investigation we discovered a wire connected to CRU’s data files and upon following the wire we found that it connected CRU’s data files to the internet. We determined that the wire, at one point, held a sophisticated connection from a remote attacker to CRU’s data files which was subsequently broken. Breaking a connection is a common method of obstructing enquiries into unlawful activities. We strongly suspect the involvement of one W.W. Web but were unable to obtain the international cooperation needed to locate and arrest this suspect. While we were ourselves unsuccessful in connecting with W.W. Web, we urge all individuals and organizations to be on the lookout for WWW. Do not confront the suspect, but notify the authorities of his or her whereabouts. Thank you and good luck"

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterEric (skeptic)

Looks like Plod came to a consensus agreement with UEA that the Climategate files found their way onto the internet ... and they have absolutely no idea how that happened except that it wasn't an internal breach but they really didn't want to investigate that too deeply either.

Plod should stick to the street corner.

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterStreetcred

Please do not be too hard on our friends in blue, they were on a hiding to nothing on this job.

Inside, outside job? How do you know? Especially if the inside is on the record as saying that it does not know what it has inside? We think we may have "lost some things"

Jul 19, 2012 at 1:42 AM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

It is a growing problem all across the western world that Police Forces seem incapable of using honest language and also seem incapable of getting to grips with various investigations.

Only a moron would think that these emails were hacked from the outside WITHOUT help from inside the CRU. Without that inside help they wouldnt know what to look for or where. This has the same structure as the Wikileaks leaks that came from the US armed services. ie: someone knew exactly what they were looking for and where to find them.

Jul 19, 2012 at 1:54 AM | Unregistered CommenterBarry

What we don't know is how much effort the police [in East Anglia or the Met] really wanted to put into this investigation, or how much they were leaned on, and by whom.

TallBloke's descriptions of his interactions with them suggest [to me] that the local force weren't much interested. The use of The Met, anti-terrorism laws, and inquiries using jurisdictions on both sides of the Atlantic, suggest bigger fish.

I still think it may have been due to the Wiki-leaks events that happened at that time.

Jul 19, 2012 at 2:24 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

Saying it was a sophisticated hack is just another way of saying that if someone from outside did hack, there was a boatload of sh*t being kept hidden waiting to be found.

Jul 19, 2012 at 2:46 AM | Registered Commentershub

massive fall in the carbon price today:

18 July: UK Financial Times: Pilita Clark/Jack Farchy: Carbon prices tumble to record low
Prices for UN-backed carbon credits sank to a record low in morning trading on Wednesday after doubts emerged about European Commission plans to prop up the bloc’s ailing emissions trading market…
http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/22951a04-d0f8-11e1-8957-00144feabdc0.html#axzz212LIxfYv

Jul 19, 2012 at 4:54 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

A much better press release would have consisted of only two sentences suitably adapted from eminent climate scientologists to describe the real state of the police investigation:


1) "We can't account for [this] at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't"


2) "we know with certainty that we know f***-all"


You see? Climate science can help out in so many unexpected situations!

Jul 19, 2012 at 5:22 AM | Registered CommenterSkiphil

police inquiry closes, carbon market not far behind. more details:

18 July: Reuters: Nina Chestney: UPDATE 3-EU rescue plan setback drives down carbon prices
(Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels; editing by Keiron Henderson)
“The macro-economic outlook does not look bright (..) I’m not surprised to see this downward correction which will likely be even worse once more permits are auctioned later this year,” said Matteo Mazzoni, analyst at Italy’s Nomisma Energia.
“Nobody really needs (permits) and to sell them now you need to have a pretty attractive spread.
***I’m still quite sceptical the market has a future at all,” he added…
Numerous sources have said nine of the 27 EU commissioners had raised objections to backloading, which is why steps to guarantee its legality were deemed necessary…
Coal-intensive Poland, which on its own could not block a decision, has repeatedly objected to anything that could raise the carbon price, as have some sections of heavy industry…
***Benchmark U.N. carbon credits were also dragged down, hitting a fresh record low below 3 euros a tonne as the market relies on demand from polluters in the EU scheme…
Estimates vary on the amount of permits which should be removed, ranging from 400 million to as much as 2.6 billion…
http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/07/18/market-carbon-idUSL6E8IIE3V20120718

Jul 19, 2012 at 5:32 AM | Unregistered Commenterpat

Skiphil, you are an evil genius.

Jul 19, 2012 at 6:20 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichards in Vancouver

That's as maybe but there is ample evidence of cooking the books - Watts Up has been onto some of this.

Jul 19, 2012 at 6:51 AM | Unregistered Commenterjames higham

Methinks that the anti-terrorist, etc squads have been redeployed to the crotch-fondling olympics.

It struck me as "climatologist" the claim that there had been no miscreant from within UEA and that it must've been an orchestrated "hack" from outside. Absent any evidence of the latter.

It were CO2 that changed the climate, Guv.!

Jul 19, 2012 at 7:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterBernd Felsche

Jul 18, 2012 at 9:08 PM | Pharos

When I read the header, paragraphs in it had Actonian resonance to me. Then I went to the Bishops Norfolk Constabulary hot link, and low and behold, linked onward from there was a UEA response by guess who of the same (today) date, emphasing the self same prose. Very odd. Something in the ether, no doubt.

Very interesting observation, Pharos. Although, I rather thought that the two press releases had a rather "Wallis-ian" ring to them. Which would not be surprising, considering Wallis' known connections to both UEA and the MET. Perhaps Wallis was called into service, again?!

And isn't it cosy that the UEA and Norfolk police pieces link to each others' respective press releases on this. I mean if one didn't know better, one might be inclined to consider this to be a rather "sophisticated and carefully orchestrated attack" ... on the truth ;-)

Incidentally, assuming that Leo H in Bish's h/t = the Guardian's Leo Hickman ... am I the only one who finds it curious that someone at this esteemed establishment always seems to be first off the mark. A few examples from the not-too-distant past: Goldenberg on Gleick, Hickman on Tallbloke. In the latter instance, it is clearly shown that Hickman is far from speedy when it comes to correcting his factual errors. But, (unlike Damian Carrington - or Goldenberg) - at least he did eventually correct his errors.

Amazing network of "sources" the Guardian's stable of journalist-advocates has, eh?!

Jul 19, 2012 at 7:21 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Hilary

I saw it first on Leo's twitter feed so wrote from there and hat-tipped accordingly. I actually found the email from Norfolk Constabulary in my spam folder shortly afterwards.

Jul 19, 2012 at 7:28 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill

UEA and Norfolk police should remember history. It's the cover-up that kills you.

They could easily have closed this investigation by saying, "We just don't know." Instead they have boxed themselves into a corner by saying that it was definitely a hack and conspiracy.

When the truth comes out, as it always does, they could be in massive trouble. Along with UEA and the Govt for conspiring.

Very very silly.

Jul 19, 2012 at 7:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterStuck-record

Bish writes:

I actually found the email from Norfolk Constabulary in my spam folder shortly afterwards.

Considering the overall "content", the thought that this should have landed in your spam folder tickles my funny-bone! It suggests that you must have very "sophisticated" spam filters that save you wasting time on reading so much far-from-credible verbiage ;-)

Now pls don't disillusion me 'n my sense of whimsy, by telling me that the E-mail contained only a link!

Jul 19, 2012 at 8:19 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Thinking about it there is a further possibility, we know form the leaks that the state of the software and data management at CRU was a bit of a joke . Therefore its possible that the situation is the same for the security , i.e easy to guess passwords, so when it came to the investigation the police were faced with such a mess there was simply no way of finding out who had legitimate access and how they got it and if they used it . So they just resorted to asking and when everyone at UEA said no , hardly a surprise, they gone for external angle and throw is some PR BS .

Jul 19, 2012 at 9:51 AM | Unregistered CommenterKnR

I've opened a thread on Martin Lack at the discussion forum. Probably said all I want to say.

Bishop, I note that Martin now has a thread at his blog entitled Montford - forget Hockey. Stick to maths!

DNFTT might apply, of course.

Jul 19, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered CommenterLucy Skywalker

KnR, I agree with you. The IT setup was shambolic, and the users were not much better (the inability of a senior academic to use Excel comes to mind).

It is unlikely that anyone could figure out what happened from this mess. As others have said, how they could come to any conclusions about the source defies logic.

Jul 19, 2012 at 10:13 AM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

If they are not prepared to reveal their evidence, then they must be detection denialists!

Jul 19, 2012 at 10:15 AM | Unregistered Commenterdearieme

“There is no evidence to suggest that anyone working at or associated with the University of East Anglia was involved in the crime.”

This sentence is compatible with:
"It is entirely possible that someone who legitimately had root logon to the server copied a load of stuff to a USB stick, leaving no trace. In any case, if that was what happened, no crime was committed".

Jul 19, 2012 at 10:16 AM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Did the police provide any evidence for their belief that this was an outside hack ? Or as a political institution, are they just kow-towing to the political consensus so as to defend their fellow civil servants at UEA ?

Jul 19, 2012 at 10:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomcat

That is a decisive statement. Either we believe there really is unambiguous evidence of external hacking or we believe the British police are so corrupt that they have deliberately faked findings in a criminal investigation.

I do not believe any evidence has been produced that would support the former. Perhaps some will appear in FoIs but I doubt it.

Jul 19, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterNeil Craig

Well of course the police decided it was an outside job. They have the same paymaster as UEA.

Jul 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterTomcat

Holy crap - carried out remotely via the Internet - good detective work there. Who would have thunk it :)

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:38 PM | Unregistered CommenterJimi Bostock

Neil Craig: "Either we believe there really is unambiguous evidence of external hacking or we believe the British police are so corrupt that they have deliberately faked findings in a criminal investigation."

We don't have to "believe" anything without evidence, if the police say they know it was an external hacker they should be prepared to tell us, their employers don't forget, what evidence supports that belief. Else we are quite entitled to tell them we don't believe them. For my part I don't know, but if I was a police Superintendent wrapping up a two and a half year case I would be sorely tempted to say we found out how it was done but couldn't nail the perp. The alternative is to say we've spent two and a half years and got no idea how the documents left the CRU - they would look daft then.

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Iplod battery ran down?

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Registered Commenterjferguson

I think some of the more erudite readers here should have a go at T.S Eliots poem and put it into context!

perhaps this could be renderedinto

Macavity: the Mystery Cat


Macavity’s a Mystery Cat: he’s called the Hidden Paw—

For he’s the master criminal who can defy the Law.

He’s the bafflement of Scotland Yard, the Flying Squad’s despair:

For when they reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,

He’s broken every human law, he breaks the law of gravity.

His powers of levitation would make a fakir stare,

And when you reach the scene of crime—Macavity’s not there!

You may seek him in the basement, you may look up in the air—

But I tell you once and once again, Macavity’s not there!

Macavity’s a ginger cat, he’s very tall and thin;

You would know him if you saw him, for his eyes are sunken in.

His brow is deeply lined with thought, his head is highly domed;

His coat is dusty from neglect, his whiskers are uncombed.

He sways his head from side to side, with movement like a snake;

And when you think he’s half asleep, he’s always wide awake.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,

For he’s a fiend in feline shape, a monster of depravity.

You may meet him in a by-street, you may see him in the square—

But when a crime’s discovered, then Macavity’s not there!

He’s outwardly respectable. (They say he cheats at cards.)

And his footprints are not found on any file of Scotland Yard’s.

And when the larder’s looted, or the jewel-case is rifled,

Or when the milk is missing, or another Peke’s been stifled,

Or the greenhouse glass is broken, and the trellis past repair—

Ay, there’s the wonder of the thing! Macavity’s not there!

And when the Foreign Office find a Treaty’s gone astray,

Or the Admiralty lose some plans and drawings by the way,

There may be a scrap of paper in the hall or on the stair—

But it’s useless to investigate—Macavity’s not there!

And when the loss has been disclosed, the Secret Service say:

‘It must have been Macavity!’—but he’s a mile away.

You’ll be sure to find him resting, or a-licking of his thumbs,

Or engaged in doing complicated long division sums.

Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,

There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.

He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare:

At whatever time the deed took place—Macavity wasn’t there!

And they say that all the Cats whose wicked deeds are widely known

(I might mention Mungojerrie, I might mention Griddlebone)

Are nothing more than agents for the Cat who all the time

Just control their operations: the Napoleon of Crime

Jul 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM | Unregistered Commentersankara

In terms of it being an external hack or a leak, we're well into Occam's Razor territory. Think about it for a moment, who would have thought the emails of an obscure unit of an academically mediocre university could have done such damage? Who'd mount a huge hack effort on a highly speculative target like that?

http://thepointman.wordpress.com/2010/12/17/why-climategate-was-not-a-computer-hack/

BTW, the CG1 release didn't only contain emails, but code also.

Pointman

Jul 19, 2012 at 1:05 PM | Unregistered CommenterPointman

Interesting quote from Richard Black at the BBC

Prof Michael Mann from Penn State University in the US, who collaborated with CRU researchers on many projects and led the development of the noted "hockey stick" graph, said it was important that the criminals be brought to justice.

You've got to love the use of the word "noted", and also the phrase " important that the criminals be brought to justice"

It made me smile and it's not often Richard Black does that

Sandy

Jul 19, 2012 at 2:14 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

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