Buy

Books
Click images for more details

Twitter
Support

 

Recent comments
Recent posts
Currently discussing
Links

A few sites I've stumbled across recently....

Powered by Squarespace
« Tom Chivers on trust | Main | When BEST is not quite good enough - Josh 176 »
Monday
Jul302012

Climategate police investigation - the closure report

Leo Hickman has posted a link to Norfolk Constabulary's official closure report on the Climategate investigation. I don't see anything important in it, but interesting all the same.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

References (1)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Adam
    [...]- Bishop Hill blog - Climategate police investigation - the closure report[...]

Reader Comments (25)

"The original hypothesis was that the data had been taken by a person or persons unknown ranging from an individual acting alone to an organised group engaged in espionage or offences linked to terrorism and potentially linked to foreign governments and/or organisations with significant commercial interests. Whilst the terrorism element quickly receded the other elements of the hypothesis remained current throughout the investigation."

It baffles me that a link to terrorism was thought at all plausible.

Jul 30, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Collecting data for Dr. Evil's Weather Machine, no doubt.

Jul 30, 2012 at 5:23 PM | Unregistered Commentermojo

"It baffles me that a link to terrorism was thought at all plausible."

Indeed, but it's the investigatory equivalent of linking a study to AGW - it is impossible for other agencies to refute or deny funding for, lest a connection be found and fingers pointed!

Jul 30, 2012 at 5:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

54 GB of data downloaded is quite a lot.

As a result the 220,000 in an encrypted zip file must be an extract and we can probably expect it to have a similar ratio of interesting to boring material.

I doubt that UEA can risk getting rid of the server and 54 GB is a huge amount to search and process but they will need to understand what is potentially out there. I can see them trying to get the server exempt from FOI but I think they will take a huge risk if they trash the server.

Jul 30, 2012 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered Commenterclivere

An anonymous leaker or hacker was able to obtain pertinent individual email messages from 54 GB of data in a short period of time. And apparently Hewlett-Packard compared FOIA2011.zip files with the server and determine that the FOIA2011.zip archive was genuine.

Will the UEA be reduced to claiming that they are unable to reproduce these extraordinarily sophisticated feats despite their unfettered access and clear ownership of the machine in question?

Jul 30, 2012 at 6:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterZT

54GB was extracted remotely over the internet

from inside a university

where you can throw a sponge in the computing department and hit 10-20 uber-geeks in one go

and where the computer services are generally supplied and staffed by ex-geeks...

and nobody noticed anything happening ?

Jul 30, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph

Jul 30, 2012 at 5:11 PM | Nicholas Hallam

It baffles me that a link to terrorism was thought at all plausible.

Terrorism is only plausible if you have a lot to hide.

If it were just a lot of chit-chat between scientists and innocuous data who would care?

Jul 30, 2012 at 8:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

"If it were just a lot of chit-chat between scientists and innocuous data who would care?"
If that innocuous data were to be adopted by national and international policymakers as a justification for trillion dollar changes to energy and economic policies, sending the world back to prehistoric times, well, what would the Plod make of that then? A bit of terrorism we can all understand, but sending the planet back to the stone age, or the global redistribution of wealth, well, how do you kettle that?

Jul 30, 2012 at 10:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterLondon Calling

2009 - "Evening all"

2012 - "Goodnight, all"

Jul 30, 2012 at 10:40 PM | Registered CommenterGreen Sand

The toilets at a local police station have been stolen. Police say they have nothing to go on.
Ronnie Barker

Jul 30, 2012 at 11:20 PM | Registered CommenterPharos

"54 GB of data downloaded is quite a lot."

Depends entirely on what it is, a jumble of binarys and unrelated document formats, could take some time. As a set of text blocks searchable by character combination, or sytematic data e.g finance spreadsheets in a common format not so much.

tend to agree though that the timespan between snatch and spill, argues against brute force techniques and towards some familiarity with the data.

Jul 30, 2012 at 11:31 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Ozanne

"It baffles me that a link to terrorism was thought at all plausible.

Terrorism is only plausible if you have a lot to hide.

If it were just a lot of chit-chat between scientists and innocuous data who would care?"

Can't understand how a terrorist of any variety from islamic jihadi nutter to Kropotkinist sociopath would connive at an act that may prevent economic and social suicide by a western nation...

Jul 30, 2012 at 11:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Ozanne

love the bit about the existence of a global network of climate change sceptics who variously believe that climate change isn't happening ...oh really? name one!

it's politics, impure and complicated.

Jul 30, 2012 at 11:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterpat

It's late, I'm bored how about a nice strawman conspiracy theory...

Given: Conspiracy to commit an unlawful act is a felony with no time limitation.

Given: Although they suspect multiple perps the Norfolk plod are basically pleading a time bar on this

Hypothesis: GCHQ have done the long march, hard labour crack on the remaining archive and told the woodentops to find some badly parked cars to ticket....

Jul 30, 2012 at 11:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterMike Ozanne

@Mike Ozanne

Cracking the archive - perhaps that is why the Met Office wanted the shiny new supercomputer...?

...it certainly hasn't improved the forecasts...

Jul 31, 2012 at 3:06 AM | Unregistered CommenterZT

"54GB was extracted remotely over the internet

from inside a university

where you can throw a sponge in the computing department and hit 10-20 uber-geeks in one go

and where the computer services are generally supplied and staffed by ex-geeks...

and nobody noticed anything happening ?

Jul 30, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterMorph"

...................................................................................
Exactly!!!!!!!!!!

Jul 31, 2012 at 8:26 AM | Unregistered CommenterDoug UK

The report is interesting in that it shows the total incompetence of the police operation.
It's quite clear that they did not ask the sceptic community any sensible questions (if any questions at all) and did not even bother to study the sceptic blogs -

1. "a relatively high number of similar requests in what appears to have been an orchestrated campaign."
Well if they had looked at CA they would have seen the comment where Steve M said "I suggest that interested readers can participate by choosing 5 countries and sending the following FOI request to david.palmer at uea.ac.uk:"
Whether this is at all relevant to the email release is debatable of course.

2. "Of the four websites known to have been used to signpost FOI 2011..."
I know of six.

Jul 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

For information

The advice I received on behalf of SCEF when I initiated a complaint against the UEA with the police, is that the police will not take such a complaint seriously unless we engage a solicitor. Which is clearly true, because the Norfolk police only got back to say "contact your local force" and Strathclyde Police didn't even reply to my email.

The position is made all the worse because the police have this delusion about us being funded by "organisations with significant commercial interests".

If there are such organisations, they must have taken the very strange line of denying sceptics any funding so that we look like a bunch of amateurs with no funding except member donations.

So, the only practical avenues for legal action are:

1. To hope that these "organisations with significant commercial interests", wake up and pay the solicitors to bring the case against the UEA.
2. For individuals who e.g. sent in FOI requests which the UEA illegally denied, to take a case against them in the small claims court (which will take a lot of time and effort rather than money), and hope the publicity would trigger a bigger police investigation into the various allegations against the UEA.

And, the most annoying thing is that if only I'd followed the rest of the crowd and sent in an FOI request to the UEA when everyone else was doing so (and not to the Met Office as I did), I would now be able to take them to court to recover the time and effort spent in preparing my FOI request, and by doing so, I would have a legal judgement the UEA broke the FOI law and not just the Information Commission's ruling.

Jul 31, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterScottish Sceptic

I am asked to believe that someone (who knew COP15 was coming up) decided to hack the CRU to see if he could find some embarrassing emails.

I rather suspect that someone in CRU already knew of embarrassing emails and asked a clever mate to fish them out.

Jul 31, 2012 at 1:59 PM | Unregistered CommenterAlan Reed

Re Nicholas Hallam

It baffles me that a link to terrorism was thought at all plausible.

It's not that crazy. Remember that when the story broke, there was all sorts of speculation such as this:

http://www.newscientist.com/blogs/shortsharpscience/2009/12/since-over-1000-confidential-e.html

"The Russian secret service has been accused of masterminding the theft of the confidential data from one of the world's leading centres of climate change research. The charge comes as news emerges that hacked climate scientists have received death threats."

So the police and security services would have been oblidged to investigate those claims and rule them in or out of the investigation. Given the money involved in climate change, if any state actor were behind it, if could be considered economic warfare or terrorism. It's a shame the FSB didn't release the results of their investigation, as they threatened to do if people didn't stop blaming them.

Jul 31, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Unregistered CommenterAtomic Hairdryer

54Gb downloaded and it definitely wasn't an inside job. Yeah right, and the Norfolk Plod also believe in the tooth fairy and father christmas, and they think that backing from the Met Plod justifies their claim (the Met lost the keys to Wembley Stadium on Monday).

Jul 31, 2012 at 6:55 PM | Registered CommenterSalopian

Jul 31, 2012 at 10:43 AM Paul Matthews


The report is interesting in that it shows the total incompetence of the police operation.
It's quite clear that they did not ask the sceptic community any sensible questions (if any questions at all) and did not...

Yes.

- They asked Steve McIntyre his views on climate change but they did not ask him for the the IP address from which “RC” posted the initial notice of the release of the files.

- They did not ask Steve Mosher (who identified Gleick as the Heartland hacker, and who thinks it was someone within UEA) who he thought was the culprit "because he probably would not tell us" (or similar words - according to the press interview).

Either incompetence or a completely competent look through the wrong end of the telescope in the wrong direction, to be sure of avoiding finding something that would be very embarrassing indeed?

Jul 31, 2012 at 7:09 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

To: Jul 31, 2012 at 4:36 PM | Atomic Hairdryer
Re: "So the police and security services would have been obliged to investigate those claims and rule them in or out of the investigation.”

This is the excuse which is to be accepted by the community. Even though the police appear to have done the opposite in reality. They did not ask people or questions which might have produced a real lead; they put up questions like the Russian one and do whatever it is they did (probably ignoring that question with equal glee).

Jul 31, 2012 at 10:57 PM | Unregistered CommenterGreg Cavanagh

@ Martin A "the wrong end of the telescope in the wrong direction"

A modification of Nelson's technique - he was from Norfolk too

Aug 1, 2012 at 10:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid Chappell

Jul 31, 2012 at 7:09 PM | Martin A

Either incompetence or a completely competent look through the wrong end of the telescope in the wrong direction, to be sure of avoiding finding something that would be very embarrassing indeed?

IOW, they were following the "lead" established by Muir Russell: Oxburgh & Penn State: If you ask the wrong questions of the wrong people, you are well on your way to ensuring that you will get the right answer.

Btw, a few curious items I found in this closure report ...

If you search for the origins of "‘sophisticated and carefully orchestrated" [which appeared twice in the July 18 "News Release"] you will find that by the time this report was generated [July 24, according to the pdf properties], that half of it has, well, disappeared. All that's left is (p. 5):

It is highly relevant to note that QinetiQ are of the view that the attack upon the UEA ICT infrastructure was highly sophisticated and was undertaken by a person or persons who were highly competent and who knew how to conceal their activity.

Although it's possible that "highly relevant ... highly sophisticated ... highly competent" make up for the absence of "carefully orchestrated". I wonder if they have a scale for determining when it's appropriate to use "highly" three times in one sentence! Perhaps there's even a formula that let's them "translate" three highly's into two instances of "carefully orchestrated" in a News Release! But I digress ...

"Orchestrated" does appear in this report, btw - but only once, as I think Paul Matthews had noted above (p. 3):

June 2009 – a data request is made under FOI, which is refused. This is followed by a relatively high number of similar requests in what appears to have been an orchestrated campaign.

I'm not sure how long it might have taken them to make the brilliant discovery (p. 4) that:

it is normal for the transaction logs on proxy servers to be switched off or to be overwritten within 24 or 48 hours

But this does strongly suggest that (as their timeline indicates on p. 3), since their "major investigation" was not launched until Nov. 23, this was well past the "24-48 hours" window of opportunity for gleaning any useful information from any proxy server logs. Although - while I'm sure its just coincidence - Nov. 23 just happened to be the date of Gavin's "reconstruction" of the details!

Aug 1, 2012 at 10:57 AM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>