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Canadian Arrested Over Plans to Test G20 Security 392

epiphani writes "Byron Sonne, of Toronto, was arrested today by a task force of around 50 police officers associated with the G20 summit taking place this week. An independent contractor, IT security specialist and private investigator, he had notable ties to the Toronto technology and security communities. According to friends and associates, he had been purchasing goods online and speaking with security groups about building devices to collect unencrypted police broadcasts and relay them through Twitter, as well as other activities designed to test the security of the G20 summit. By all accounts, it would appear that Mr. Sonne had no actual malicious intent. In Canada, the summit has been garnering significant press for the cost and invasive nature of the security measures taken." "By all accounts" may not be quite right; the charges against Sonne, exaggerated or not, involve weapons, explosives, and intimidation.
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Canadian Arrested Over Plans to Test G20 Security

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:31PM (#32682222)

    Innocent or malicious, the guy was an idiot. How would he ensure nobody with malicious intent took advantage of what he did?
    I'm glad this prick was arrested.

  • by Revotron ( 1115029 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:33PM (#32682252)

    It doesn't matter if he had malicious intent or not. The police had no way of knowing for sure what his real goals were. He appeared to be gearing up to do something naughty, and they caught on and stopped him.

    All they knew was that some lone wolf out there not associated with the government was trying to crack through G20 security, for *whatever* reason.

    Oblig. car analogy: If I was arrested trying to break into someone's car, would the police let me go if I told them I was just moving it so the nice chap who owns it doesn't get towed for parking in a fire lane?

  • by johnlittledotorg ( 858326 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:36PM (#32682284) Homepage
    Listening to unencrypted public safety comms won't get you busted (in most places) but:

    "Friends say Sonne had talked about sending messages with trigger words or buying up fertilizer during the summit to test security measures."

    What a stupid thing to do but they got wind of it didn't they? I'd say he has his answer - security, at least the intelligence component of it, is pretty decent.
  • Bizarre .... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:38PM (#32682312) Homepage

    I heard about this guy on the news yesterday.

    While I don't know the details on what all is is alleged to have done -- he did set a goal to deliberately try to see if they would detect his behavior. He was planning on sending emails with words that would get him flagged by any hypothetical electronic searches they were running, and generally trying to look suspicious to see if they've noticed him. All in the name of seeing what kind of security they had in place, and how well it works.

    He may well be completely innocent, a crack-pot, or just some misguided hacker who thinks it's his job to "take on the man". But, it's kind of like trying to get the bull to chase you -- you might not like it when he does. I'm pretty sure they've made trying to identify/breach their security procedures illegal.

    The geek and hacker in me applauds such a balsy move. The pragmatist in me thinks he might have tried just a little too hard to get noticed. I mean, antagonizing an already skittish security apparatus ... not the smartest move you can make. :-P

    I'm looking to actually hearing more facts as they become available.

  • by hodet ( 620484 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:43PM (#32682386)
    "building devices to collect unencrypted police broadcasts and relay them through twitter".

    He's building a common police scanner? Anything of interest will be encrypted. Regular Toronto Police Service is analog though but hardly anything that can be pickup up from them will be sensitive. I suspect the explosives on hand had way more to do with it. He may be smart but that was a dumbass move.

  • by DRAGONWEEZEL ( 125809 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:44PM (#32682398) Homepage

    and since I'm a narcissistic American... I will.

    That was what I felt too. It's like testing the security of your house by posting an add on craigslist telling people when I'm leaving, and when I'll be back. Not really a good idea, epsecially since every 100th craigslist reader has a brain, and that one guy might be a robber who would bring a pair of cable cutters to drop the phone / power lines.

    Even if security WAS good enough, damage still occurs to the house. The "telcom integrity" gets degraded... the cost of repairing that can be high... lastly a bump key,a rock, or a swift kick, and a masked smash and grab is still possible w/or w/o security.

    I think doing that to a major summit is not just irresponsible, there is no way someone in his field can claim they couldn't see the consequences, meaning it can only be formulated w/ malicious intenet. There is no good reason to "test" it's security unless you were hired to do so, and still you wouldn't do it this way.

  • by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:50PM (#32682472)

    Did he have an agreement with the G20 meeting organizers to test their security? You don't get to "test" people's security against their will.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:56PM (#32682564)

    "By all accounts" may not be quite right; the charges against Sonne, exaggerated or not, involve weapons, explosives and intimidation.

    Can't you be charged with just about anything a police officer deems necessary to bring you into the station, but you aren't guilty of any of them until proven so? I thought that's how it worked but clearly I'm mistaken.

    No, it doesn't work like that. That only applies to sentencing someone of a crime. But someone says "By all accounts, he is a saint!" you can say "Not by all accounts, as some claim that he has committed a crime" even if he hasn't been proven guilty yet. It's actually quite a simple concept to grasp.

    Though, I mean, the question of Malicious intent does bring up some good points. If I fire a weapon to shoot an Apple off someones head and I miss and end up murdering them, despite how un-malicious my intent is, do I still have to pay for the crime?

    Depends. You don't have to pay for murder. Now, you might have committed other crime (such as gross negligence or the like) and need to pay for that. It is kinda like with drunken driving: The act of knowingly risking the lives of others due to selfish reasons is in itself crime.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @03:58PM (#32682600) Homepage

    Fortunately, the inquiry on THAT particular incident tore the RCMP a new one over their over-reaction.

    And yet, none of them will ever be disciplined over it.

  • by Bobakitoo ( 1814374 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#32682720)
    How about knowing if we, the canadian public, had our 2 billions's worth of security theater, fake lake and Conservative propaganda?

    I dont know this person, or if he had honest intent. But i can think of good reason for such auditing exercise.
  • Re:Bizarre .... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by davegravy ( 1019182 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:05PM (#32682722)

    Kudos to this guy for answering a curiosity of mine: I've always wondered what would actually happen if I sent a bunch of e-mails with phrases like "bomb the G20 summit", "death to the capitalist swine" and "one hundred pounds of nitrated fertilizer". I guess now we know.

    My understanding is that there's nothing illegal about your post.

    If Sonne was arrested for doing what you just did (or similar), and gets convicted, it will be a sad day for Canada.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ultranova ( 717540 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:06PM (#32682740)

    I don't know about Canada, but in the US, just making stuff up so you can be hauled in can get the police charged with False Arrest.

    Can or will? There's a little bit of a difference there...

  • by Itninja ( 937614 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:13PM (#32682832) Homepage
    So he wanted to test security and was caught. Sounds like his test worked great. He should be very please with himself. When he gets out he should test US government security by pulling a gun during on the POTUS during a speech.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:14PM (#32682860) Homepage

    When I just read that my heart kind of sank. Is there anything more tragic then a group of people in supposed authority harming another man? Sigh.

    Oh, lying about it. Covering it up. Denying it happened until the video surfaced. Discrediting the poor sod they killed and the guy who took the only video that proved it happened. Confiscating the video and refusing to give it back. Using Taser's BS "excited delirium" argument to say that it wasn't the Taser that killed him, but his own body. Avoiding all criminal responsibility. Still being active police officers.

    The bottom is a long way down, and the tragedy runs pretty deep on this one. They didn't even try to resolve this peacefully, they just went straight to over-use of force.

    Absolutely every aspect of that is completely appalling and fubar.

  • by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:20PM (#32682964) Homepage
    How about 50 people to arrest one person because of it. I figured one RCMP [] dealing with an upset Mule would be enough.
  • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:27PM (#32683054)

    Many hackers seem to have this ethos of "If I CAN do it then it is ok for me to do." If they can break in to a system, it is ok for them to do in their mind. They figure the person who owns it should have secured it better. Something tells me they would not be nearly so amused if I applied the same thing to their house. "Oh hey! Ya I've been sleeping on your couch watching TV. Well it was really your problem after all, your lock wasn't very good, I picked it easily and your alarm was defeated by just cutting the power and battery cable in it. Don't get made at ME, if you don't want me here YOU should have secured your house better!"

    I think hacker types need to remember basic kindergarten etiquette: Don't touch what isn't your without asking first. If you want to learn how to break in to computers that is wonderful, but do it on your own. Don't go and try to get in to other's stuff.

    Same shit here.

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @04:41PM (#32683254) Homepage

    I'd accept any charges that put them in jail.

    I'd accept three things:

    1. No longer being RCMP officers or any other kind police officer
    2. Tighter rules on using the damned tasers
    3. Having a court say once and for all that "excited delirium" is bullshit and not a valid medical term and can't be used to describe a death which only happens when tasers are used
  • by Cytotoxic ( 245301 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:01PM (#32683572)

    I don't know about his link to protest activity. He had a john-boat tied to the roof of his car. I don't know for sure, but normally one doesn't bring a 14 foot aluminum boat to a protest rally on a downtown street.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Toze ( 1668155 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:02PM (#32683600)

    No "Conservative" ever gets to talk about adscam ever again.

    I am so glad I quit being a Conservative years back, when they promised to never ever ever ever tax income trusts. And then they did, about 6 months after the elections, and my eyes were opened, and I said "Oh. All politicians are lying, cheating bastards." So when MP James Moore, a Conservative, decided to deride copyright reformers as "radical extremists" who "don't have any interest in reforming copyright" and have "babyish views" of it, I wasn't surprised any more than when other Conservatives decided to spend a billion dollars on G20 security.

    My point is, every single person in office can be expected to be a lying, cheating bastard. So I think you're right; no Tory gets to complain about adscam or Liberal waste as the height of calumny. They've treated their term in office like it was a race to outspend and outlie the Liberals, and despite the difficulty of the goal, they've achieved it. By the same token, however, the Liberals, who set the bar for the Tories to pass, don't get to complain about this, either. The Bloc Quebecois, who spend all their time extorting similar volumes of cash from the rest of Canada by threatening to disrupt the ruling party's voter base, don't get to complain about it. No party has any right to complain about other parties' wasteful spending, because every party spends criminally while in power. So if one party's crimes prevent them from complaining about another party's crimes, Parliament Hill would get really quiet.

    I think, instead, maybe we ought to object to wasteful government spending no matter what party we object to, belong to, or support. I think we ought to object to wasteful spending because it harms Canadians, and not to score points for our favoured party. So I decry the Conservatives spending $1B, and I decry the Conservatives for implementing the GST in the Mulrouney years, and I decry the Liberals for implementing the NEP that destroyed two provinces' economies for a decade, and I decry the Liberals for adscam. There's plenty of blame to go around and no reason to single out a certain party's sins, or assume the other parties are any better.

  • by Larryish ( 1215510 ) <<larryish> <at> <>> on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:13PM (#32683778)

    From where I am seated, the fellow is "alleged" to have been involved in "protest activity".

    What forces are at work on the source? It appears to be no more than a mainstream Canadian news outlet.

    Seems possible that the television-addicted diet-cola-addled Canadians will scoop it up with the same glee that television-addicted diet-cola-addled Americans accept the heavily weighted spins of FOX and CNN.

  • 50 Officers? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by nuckfuts ( 690967 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:49PM (#32684280)

    Arrested by "a task force of around 50 police officers"?

    Can you picture a force of 50 officers coming to arrest one person? The need for "security" has become so overdone since 911 it's beyond ridiculous. 50 officers is not a "task force". It's a fucking ARMY. No bloody wonder that Canada has spent over a BILLION DOLLARS [] on security for the G20 summit. What an incredible waste.

  • by Curtman ( 556920 ) * on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:53PM (#32684346)
    I don't know what he's referring to, but I can give you the story of Crystal Ann Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three []

    A former Winnipeg police officer was given a conditional sentence of two years less a day Monday for killing a woman in a car accident on the outskirts of the city in 2005.


    In a deal with prosecutors, Harveymordenzenk pleaded guilty in July to a single charge of dangerous driving causing death in the crash that killed Crystal Ann Taman, a 40-year-old mother of three whose convertible was stopped at a traffic light at the corner of Highway 59 and the Perimeter Highway when it was hit from behind.

    Harveymordenzenk was initially charged with refusing a breathalyzer, impaired driving causing death and criminal negligence causing death, but those charges were dropped without explanation when Harveymordenzenk pleaded guilty to dangerous driving.

    The court heard that Harveymordenzenk had been out at an after-shift party with off-duty colleagues in the hours before the crash, but no evidence was offered in the case about whether the former officer had been drinking.

  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @05:58PM (#32684434) Homepage Journal

    "You are free of all charges but marked potentially dangerous to the event. A police officer (a security expert) will accompany you at all times until after the summit, and will report all your moves. Do not avoid said officer nor try to conceal your activity from them. You are welcome to continue testing the security like you did so far, in fact we specifically request you to do so. Of course, if any of your routes appears to have a chance to succeed, we will stop you, but you will suffer no consequences. After all, what good is finding security flaws for if they are not reported to the maintainer and given a chance to be patched? So keep poking at our security, please, just don't keep us in the dark about what you find, and don't be surprised if you trigger some traps and alarms we set up."

  • by Chirs ( 87576 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:05PM (#32684508)

    His whole point is that we could get the desired security for a whole lot less money if we didn't put it smack in the middle of one of the busiest cities in the country.

    We could have held it on a military base, or on a cruise ship, or in a 5-star hunting lodge up north. All of those would have been way cheaper.

    Heck...they could have *built* a 5-star hunting lodge up north for the event, and then given it to a local community to operate for profit afterwards.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by myspace-cn ( 1094627 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:08PM (#32684548)

    All this is is an example. They can' get a false flag, so they have to set an example because they can't let all that money go to waste without cracking down on something new.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zx-15 ( 926808 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:15PM (#32684648)
    I still have moderator points, but I haven't found '-1 Wrong and somewhat clueless' or '-1 Too stupid for a troll' option, so I'll just elaborate.

    Your statement about the argument being bullshit is bullshit.
    Just like in case of BP not spending the necessary money and not securing the Gulf of Mexico properly and now paying tens of billions for it + all that oil in the water, imagine if a representative of any country got hurt or killed, what that would do to the image of the country.

    First of all, the accident happened with BP was the first of all due to lack of government regulation, does abbreviation MMS ring any bells? and greedy corporations being greedy and all. BP thing was entirely preventable and should not have happened at all, that's why everyone is pissed at them, and the billions it will pay will probably not cover all the damage anyway.

    Sort of like that luge accident during the Vancouver Olympics that was totally avoidable had the organizers put some soft barriers, like nets in front of those metal posts that the poor 20y.o. Georgian dude killed himself against.

    Allocating more money on the problem does not mean that the soft barriers would have been installed anyway, there's always multiple things to spend money on.

    Should it be a billion or half of that or 2 billion, I don't know, but what is known is that a failure in this sort of thing would cost magnitudes more than this money spent.

    The biggest problem here, as the parent pointed out, is that why the hell did the meeting had to take place in Toronto with government pointlessly spending garbles while paralyzing a major city and giving its inhabitance an impression of living in a police state? I'm not even evaluating a cost of failure in security, but it's efficacy and how it would have been much better for everyone if Stephen Harper would feel the need to compensate for the perception of the size of his penis, which now I have reason to assume is a quite a bit below average.

    And what's up with that artificial lake?

    Anyway even if I agreed with the whole point that these summits are in some way promoting Canada, I don't think being a pointless show-off and then letting taxpayers foot the bill gives the right message.

    Hey, aren't you conservative libertarians are supposed to be for limited government and fiscal responsibility?
  • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:17PM (#32684664)

    Actually, your argument is far more spurious. Allow me to poke some holes in it. First, you have not countered any of my claims. You have put forth two unrelated points and hope that an oil spill caused by recklessness and a luge accident caused by poor design somehow justify spending a billion dollars on security.

    What is the cost of security for these dignitaries at home? Do they spend $3500 every second (cumulatively, of course) on their security? The fencing is $1500 per metre. (or yard, for the Americans out there.) To put that into perspective, they could have built the fence out of Plasma TVs. However, unlike the Panasonic I've got in my living room, it's going to be dismantled and scrapped once everyone goes home.

    Canada doesn't have assassinations, we don't have terrorist acts, and we don't have any justification whatsoever for this much expense.

    Who is moving to hurt these dignitaries? What plots exist? What's the intelligence chatter? Is anyone behind anything?


    All we have from the CPC's talking heads -- many of whom are actually paid to astroturf and argue online about how AWESOME the CPC is and how great a job our PM is doing -- is "imagine what would happen if someone got hurt".

    That's it: "Shut the fuck up and let Harper spend your money the way he sees fit."

    That's a little interesting, as our Industry Minister has poured... let's look this up... $50 million into his own riding in order to boost his re-election chances and claimed that rework dozens of kilometers away from the summit was "required work for the summit".

    As for Nodar Kumaritashvili, whoever designed the track should have been facing criminal charges or at the very least sanctions from APEG-BC. I'm astonished that it didn't happen.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 24, 2010 @06:26PM (#32684746)

    Another useful measure: the federal deficit in Canada is expected to be ~$60 billion this year, meaning the security of this conference accounts for about 1.7% of it.

    Of course, the greatest irony is that several countries at the conference, including Canada, are strong advocates winding down stimulus funding and tackling the fiscal deficits [] that have built up in most of the G8 countries. When it comes time to cut the costs of useful things in order to do that (e.g., healthcare, education, infrastructure, defense, whatever), please remember that we could have saved ~$1 billion in security costs *alone* by not hosting the G20/G8. That doesn't begin to cover all the other costs and the costs for all the attending nations. They should have started by just having a fricking video conference call/

    "We need to cut the costs of government" [while we spend >$1 billion to host a conference where we can say how important that is] Brilliant! Next they'll be cutting our chocolate rations for the good of the War in Eastasia.

    Every G8/G20 leader that attends this financial boondoggle while saying they need to tackle government deficits back home needs a good, swift kick in the butt. But I suppose I shouldn't publicly express my outrage lest someone in the security system think that it is a genuine threat rather than political commentary by a concerned citizen.

  • Re:Hey... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by zx-15 ( 926808 ) on Thursday June 24, 2010 @09:28PM (#32686252)
    Well, first of all, thanks for being civil, that really helps to get your point across.

    Also as one of the people replying in the same thread pointed out, comparing BP disaster and G20 meeting is a false dichotomy, if you don't see it let me spell it out -- one is ecological disaster and the other is federal government are just being assholes, if anything G20 meeting reminds me of Mulroney farewell tour.

    But since we are talking about BP, your argument is complete bullshit BP is liable, but it's a corporation it has a limited liability, government can sue them only for so much and you can't just jail and shoot people, there's this thing called constitution (both in US and in Canada) that prevents government doing exactly that, there's also pension funds across whole europe that invested in BP and whole lot other reasons; is it enough to say why BP shouldn't just be arbitrary put on a pike?
    Also in your fluffy libertarian world with weak (read small) government anyone is supposed to prevent corporations influencing it?
    Liberal fraud and G20 meetings are both examples of government waste, I don't really see how you can miss this.

    What do you mean by 'play with your moderator points'?
  • Re:Hey... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by unknownroad ( 988492 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @01:04AM (#32687254)
    Those examples are from 40 and 25 years ago, and I'd argue that spending this much on security theatre hardly makes anyone that much safer. There's still plenty of unprotected infrastructure and crowded public places out there waiting to be 'terrorized'. Maybe the spending could be considered justified since it'll likely ensure that important world leaders survive, but the reality of terrorism is that you don't have to deal the assassination-blow to the highest value targets to be effective.

    Imagine how bad it would look if, despite spending this much, the leaders, safe in their well-secured citadel, looked out to see a bomb go off on the other side of the city. Tragic deaths aside, it'd be a public relations (and likely diplomatic) disaster for the hosts. The very nature of terrorism allows the terrorist to get attention and grief their enemies regardless of the level of security measures applied. It's not possible to lock down the entire universe. If one place is well defended, attack somewhere else. Guerilla warfare 101.
  • by Syberz ( 1170343 ) on Friday June 25, 2010 @10:59AM (#32690898)

    Unlike Americans, most Canadians have had some level of military training

    Uh, what are you basing this on? We don't have mandatory military training here, so only those who willingly join up have *some* level of military training. It seems like you're pulling the explosive's thing out of your ass as well.

    We do have more guns per capital than in the States and a heck of a lot less gun related crimes per capita then in the States as well.

    I totally agree with the rest of your statements though.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI