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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 11-27-2013, 11:57 PM
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Default Tazewell, VA - Two EMS Workers Indicted for Incursion into Law Enforcement System

Two Va. EMS workers indicted » Local News » Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

TAZEWELL,Va. — Two local rescue squad members have been indicted for their unauthorized incursion into the local law enforcement radio system that would allow them to overhear officers’ conversations, according to a statement issued Monday by the Tazewell County Sheriff’s Office.
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Old 11-28-2013, 3:03 PM
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Several comments in the article indicate the reporter's source doesn't know what he's talking about, or the reporter doesn't, such as implying that encryption keys can be downloaded into a scanner. Can't be done. Second, not all radios accept the key, depending on what level of encryption it is capable of functioning under. Third, systems can be programmed as listen-only / transmit inhibit. Nothing illegal about that per se, otherwise all those Amtrak PD radios with the weather frequencies programmed into one bank are Class 5 or Class 6 felonies in Tazewell County. Perhaps if the defense takes good notes and hires a radio expert the prosecution will have an uphill fight in some areas.

Now, if unauthorized transmit/receive frequencies were programmed in a non-listen only manner that's a different matter! However, somehow these guys apparently got the system keys for the trunked system as well, so someone wasn't minding the store well, and perhaps they didn't realize someone would notice when an unrecognized radio affiliated with the system. On the flipside, some if this should mean they got the encryption keys to Tazewell NXDN, which makes me wonder again, who was minding the store? Encryption keys need to be highly protected. As for the comments on VA STARS...most of that is open digital, not encrypted, and except for NXDN, most everything in Tazewell and on VA STARS is accessible by any scanner.

So this article makes me scratch my head, as some of the sources are off-base with their remarks and the reporter needs to be more tech-savvy and ask more questions.
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Old 11-28-2013, 6:21 PM
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The article did not mention anything about programming transmit frequencies. The Tazewell encryption codes seem to be what their problem is going to be. Russell County and Tazewell PD appear to be non-encrypted. And what "Virginia State Police channels"? Is the reporter referring to STARS and can that even be done by these two guys? I can only imagine programming a radio for STARS is going to be a little more difficult than programming a Uniden or GRE.

I think their only issue is the encryption keys which is illegal, unethical and just wrong.
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Old 11-28-2013, 11:43 PM
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Well we all know you can't put encryption keys into a scanner so the reporter screwed up on that part. what I am trying to decipher is did they program the radios in the trucks to hear the PD's or did they actually pull the keys from the radios and program other radios with them? I worked EMS for a number of years and at 1 place we were actually issued radios from the police department with identifiers and the others also had the capability of being able to hear and transmit to the police departments that were served. I also think the cops were pretty lenient offering to let these guys pay for the radios to get re-keyed and they weren't going to be charged. It will be interesting to see how this plays out
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Old 11-29-2013, 12:14 AM
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A very poorly-written article, to be sure.
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Old 11-29-2013, 8:03 AM
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the system in question is a networked NXDN.

the accused allegedly gained access to the programming computer on which the KPG111 software and master key files were, and made unauthorized changes to agency radios.

they are charged because they lacked the proper authorization to reprogram the county owned radios, using county computer equipment.

NXDN itself is pretty secure against unauthorized programming, as the software itself and system key are "married" to each other. NXDN supports both software based 40-bit and hardware based AES encryption. AES requires a separate hardware key variable loader device. Software encryption requires only the KPG.

This is yet another example of how unauthorized radio programming can get one into bigtime trouble.
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Old 11-29-2013, 8:49 AM
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Sounds more like the agency is PO'd that some one used their authorized computer to program the radios. Sounds more like a burglary that anything to do with radio. Poor security on the agencies part may be the main problem they will have in court.
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Old 11-29-2013, 9:27 AM
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Seeing correct details would be interesting, instead something butchered by a clueless reporter.
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Old 11-29-2013, 9:45 AM
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It's amazing when the reader knows the subject/topic better than what gets reported (and most people just believe), isn't it? Makes you wonder how much of what you hear from the press you should really believe...
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Old 11-29-2013, 10:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by radioman2001 View Post
Sounds more like the agency is PO'd that some one used their authorized computer to program the radios. Sounds more like a burglary that anything to do with radio. Poor security on the agencies part may be the main problem they will have in court.
And they have a right to be upset.

Unauthorized is unauthorized, no way around it.

Regardless of how they were able to gain access to the machine with the KPG software and key files/data files, it is reasonable to assume they knew that doing so was unlawful, and knew (being public safety workers) that said equipment was off limits to them and they were not allowed/authorized to make changes to their issued radios.

This is key, because doing so proves intent. If someone "left the back door open" to the guy's office who does the programming, or they broke in- is really irrelevant.

with the charges they are facing, the issue isn't how, but if they did or did not.

They will have their day in court should they choose to take advantage of that right.

Let this serve as a warning that if you are issued a radio, it belongs to the agency who issues it to you. Most agencies have specific written policies that forbid unauthorized modification of radios or any issued equipment without specific written permission. Certainly using computer systems that are not allocated to you in your daily employ or duty demonstrates one's intent to act outside the scope of their authority. And if they did so, then the S/O has every right to be "PO'ed" and take legal action against them or anyone else. The law will also be on their side.

It's obvious they didn't have that authorization, or they would not have been indicted.

If your employer does not want you to have something, you have no right to disregard their authority.

But we shall see what plays out or if it even goes to trial.
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Old 12-01-2013, 12:19 AM
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Well, this is certainly interesting, and goes to show the pain in the butt of lots of encryption.. Sure, what they did was wrong, but I don't think that it's the fact that they can 'hear officers conversations' that they are all upset about, it's the $4700 bucks.
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Old 12-01-2013, 6:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MTS2000des View Post


It's obvious they didn't have that authorization, or they would not have been indicted.
I would like to comment that an indictment should not be considered to be a presumption as to someone's guilt. I had a DA once tell me he could get an indictment on a ham sandwich.
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Old 12-01-2013, 5:14 PM
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I'm still mostly curious as to how two regular Joe Schmoe EMS workers got access to the radio shop's programming system, or if there was any 'help' from a radio engineer?
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Old 12-01-2013, 5:58 PM
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Quote:
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I would like to comment that an indictment should not be considered to be a presumption as to someone's guilt. I had a DA once tell me he could get an indictment on a ham sandwich.
The DA you quote must watch a LOT of police procedural tv shows since I've heard the same line on a dozen or more shows over the years.
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Old 12-01-2013, 6:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lep View Post
The DA you quote must watch a LOT of police procedural tv shows since I've heard the same line on a dozen or more shows over the years.
I believe that is true, and have heard prosecutors and defense attorneys make similar statements.

In New Jersey the Grand Jury consists of 23 regular people who listen to the case presented to them by the prosecutor aka the District Attorney in many other places. No defense information is usually presented to the Grand Jury.

12 of the 23 people must vote to indict. The instructions to the Grand Jury is that if they as reasonable people believe that a crime has been committed and that the person accused is guilty of committing the crime, they should vote to indict him.
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Old 12-01-2013, 6:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avdrummerboy View Post
I'm still mostly curious as to how two regular Joe Schmoe EMS workers got access to the radio shop's programming system, or if there was any 'help' from a radio engineer?
Easy, allot of self research patience and money to rears items needed from surplus and or bootlegs. That or the had inside help or knowing of insecure doors. Anythings possible.
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Old 12-01-2013, 7:09 PM
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Well if there is a will then there is a way if you want to listen.

I think somebody in the radio engineering department is going to get a pink slip real soon.

But who knows, its only EMS guys wanting to listen to their co-workers which are COPS.

They are the good guys with no harm.
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Old 12-02-2013, 3:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pepsima1 View Post
Well if there is a will then there is a way if you want to listen.

I think somebody in the radio engineering department is going to get a pink slip real soon.

But who knows, its only EMS guys wanting to listen to their co-workers which are COPS.

They are the good guys with no harm.
I hardly consider anyone who disregards their department policy to the point of getting indicted for a felony "good guys", but I'll wait until I see the outcome of this before I really tell you how I really feel.

If their chief wanted them to be listening to the SO radio traffic, then he/she would have either:

A: had the radios programmed with those talk groups
B: given them authorization to have them added

But as we know based upon the indictment, they allegedly acted outside of the scope of their authority and employment and had their county owned radios reprogrammed without proper authorization.

Where I work, we call folks like this the rogue army of ones, people who don't respect the authority they work for. It's nothing more than whackersism, no different than the clowns that program unauthorized radios on their municipality TRS "just to listen" by cloning someone else's ID.

I see no difference between them and anyone else who chooses to do stupid radio tricks. Even worse when you do it on the job and bring them into it. What do you expect to happen? Get a promotion for enhancing your agencies' "interoperability"?

Do things outside your authority and this is an example of how our career can end.
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Old 12-02-2013, 6:25 AM
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First off, the editor needs to be edited himself from what I can see in the article. Setting that unimportant detail, I agree with the sheriffs departments motion to make the two individuals pay for the reprogramming of radios. Encryption keys for most talkgroups at local and possibly state levels are kept somewhat secret, but not secret enough that someone couldn't obtain access to them. Simply put, most officers ( not dispatchers) don't know off hand they encryption keys either. Which is good, cause lets face it if they wanted it to be that secure nobody would know unless your a radio technician who handles the reprogramming.
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Old 12-02-2013, 8:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CaptDan View Post
The instructions to the Grand Jury is that if they as reasonable people believe that a crime has been committed and that the person accused is guilty of committing the crime, they should vote to indict him.


Not exactly. To gain a conviction, there must be evidence beyond reasonable doubt. To gain an "Indictment" the DA simply needs an applicable amount of jurors feel there is enough evidence to proceed the case forward. That's all. There is no speculation or judgment of guilt nor innocence involved, that's why the average citizen is not afforded the opportunity to defend themselves during indictment proceedings.

Last edited by RRR; 12-02-2013 at 8:23 AM.. Reason: spellin'
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