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28 December 2006

Forged E-Mails Enter Swiss Politics

Forged name under wish to change positions in regional government

According to an article from swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger (online in german likely only for a short while; NZZ reports too, TSR reports in french), forged mails where sent from a computer in the building of the swiss parliament in Berne. The mails (and SMS) carried the name of Laurent Schaffter, member of the regional government of the canton of Jura. Those mails expressed the wish to change his position as minister for "buildings and ecology", with the result that he got assigned a new position as minister for "health, social, and personnel". I've been waiting for something like this to happen, as it is much, much too easy to forge mails...

From the article it seems that the mails where carefully crafted, not too obviously going contrary to what the real person would have written. The mails stated in the form of a poll that Schaffter was uncertain in choosing which ministry he would like to have, they were "signed" with his name.

Due to the forgery having been discovered now, the positioning of ministries will start anew. Philippe Receveur, the current politician scheduled for the position of "buildings and ecology" said that he would not resist a new positioning, even though another politician from his party claimed that the assignment of seats followed democratic rules.

Oh, yes: Charges were filed. It is known from which computer in the parliament building those mails were sent from. But it isn't (yet) known who sent those mails.

My own reading into this is that any ministry with "public buildings" in the name is a hotspot for cash and crooked deals. It might well be that someone else wanted to have their hands on that. Forging a couple of mails is way to easy. It's about time that something as simple as digitally signing of mails (be it in the form of PGP or S/MIME) took hold in the heads of politicians and businesspeople.

With the situation as it is now, all that protects you from a well crafted mail forgery is that people will believe you when you shout: "that wasn't me!" In politics that might work, but in a business relationship it might well turn out to be the end of business relations and the start of a stroll through the legal system. It's way easier to start thinking about digital signatures on email now.

Posted by betabug at 14:38 | Comments (0) | Trackbacks (0)
ch athens
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