Rik's Ramblings

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Co-ordinating a terror attack

People talk about how terrorists use the 'net and newsgroups to co-ordinate terror attacks and other nafarious stuff.

I always thought they'd be using their own sites. I thought "That'd be easy(ish) to monitor and shut down the servers". But after some random searching last week I stumbled on an idea.

If you do a search (on google) for sohardtopicksn@aol.com you get dozens of message-board/feedback-form hits. The 'email address' appears on hundreds of unrelated sites. The content of the posting is apparently garbage.

Redundancy

One of the principle design goals of the Internet was Be resiliant to an attack or outage to a single node. Meaning someone can take-out one router or cable and the US gov doesn't loose it's comms network - all installations/nodes are still accessible. Traffic that would ideally go over the link just taken out uses an alternative path.

This is redundancy. Hmmm, those sohardtopicksn@aol.com messages have a similar level of redundancy. You have clean-up dozens of notice boards if you want to prevent the 'message' getting through.

Crypography

When you don't want someone to read your messages cryptography is a way to 'scramble' the message in a way that makes it (approx) impossible to read.

The US gov doesn't want us to have access to strong cryptography - they want to be able to crack the 'scambling' on our messages. They want the ability to read them when they think we're terrorists.

My buddies at the EFF (http://www.eff.org) don't like that idea - they think we all have the right to privacy and must be allowed to use strong crypto to protect our love letters.

Those seemingly garbled messages sent by sohardtopicksn@aol.com might actually be encrypteed texts.


Ergo

Pissed-off individual
+Message boards
+Redunndancy
+Cryptography
= Co-ordinating a terror attack?


Conclusions

Maybe the US government is right to restrict access to strong cryptography. Perhaps they do need a backdoor to unlock and read our love letters.

Lame



Perhaps people who run newsgroups / discussion groups / blogs should remove all the garbage messages that are on the list. Don't be so lazy and untidy with your lists. Don't just assume it's a message that got "mangled" in transit.

Better



FYI: messages can't get mangled in transit with IP+TCP+HTTP transport.

1 Comments:

  • I think maybe the conclusion should be the USA not trying to control other countries, so these other countries won't get pissed off and try to counter attack the USA, no?

    By Blogger PP, at 6/2/04, 11:24 PM  

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