Re: [ISN] Internet proves easy way for terrorists to communicate

From: InfoSec News (isnat_private)
Date: Tue Oct 09 2001 - 04:26:56 PDT

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    Forwarded from: Dan Verton <Dan_Vertonat_private>
    FYI...from Ross Anderson
    University of Cambridge
    Unfortunately, the story that bin Laden hides his secret messages in
    pornographic images on the net appears to be too good for the tabloids
    to pass up. It appears to have arisen from work done by Niels Provos
    at the University of Michigan. In November last year, he wrote in a
    technical report that he could find no evidence that messages were
    being hidden in online images. By February this year, this had been
    been conflated by USA Today, an American popular paper, with an
    earlier FBI briefing on cryptography into a tale that terrorists could
    be using steganography to hide messages [2]. Similar material has
    surfaced in a number of the racier areas of the net [3], despite being
    criticised a number of times by more technically informed writers [4].
    Dan Verton: I would add that this analysis is consistent with
    intelligence analysis that shows al Qaeda to have shifted the bulk of
    its C2 to non-technical means in order to avoid U.S. surveillance.
    Although, stegonography makes good technology copy -- just a thought
    from a former intelligence officer turned technology journalist :-)
    InfoSec News <isnat_private> on 10/08/2001 04:09:19 AM
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    Subject:  [ISN] Internet proves easy way for terrorists to communicate
    By LISA HOFFMAN, Scripps Howard News Service
    (October 6, 2001 2:12 p.m. EDT) - To terrorist cells such as Al Qaeda,
    a picture on the Web can be worth a lot more than a thousand words.
    Employing the 21st century version of a concept as old as secrets
    themselves, alleged terrorists affiliated with Osama bin Laden are
    believed to have exploited the vastness of the Internet to hide
    messages between conspirators in what amounts to plain sight.
    According to declassified intelligence reports, court testimony and
    computer security experts, bin Laden's network has been a pioneer in
    adapting the ancient art of steganography to the Internet. U.S.
    officials and high-tech researchers seeking to counter such techniques
    are scrambling for methods to detect or derail them.
    Online steganography - derived from the Greek words meaning "covered
    writing" - essentially involves hiding information or communications
    inside something so unremarkable that no one would suspect it's there.
    It's the cyber-equivalent of invisible ink or the "dead drops" that
    spies use to pass secrets.
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