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San Francisco Team Wins DARPA's De-Shredding Contest

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the california-v-greenwood-1988 dept.

Encryption 94

New submitter karlnyberg writes with an update to the recently announced de-shredding challenge posted by DARPA: "The team 'All Your Shreds Are Belong To U.S.' has correctly solved all five puzzles, and the Challenge has now ended. You may view the winning team's submissions as well as the complete puzzle solutions by following the links on our homepage. We recognize that many of our participants have devoted countless hours to painstakingly piecing our puzzles back together, and we truly appreciate everyone's efforts. Hopefully you enjoyed the Challenge and learned something new along the way. We certainly did!"

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94 comments

Jackasses (5, Interesting)

masternerdguy (2468142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245602)

Thanks for helping the government spy on me.

Re:Jackasses (0, Flamebait)

Stormthirst (66538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245648)

Thanks for helping me be paranoid about the government spying on me when in fact they don't give a f***.

FTFY

WTF? (4, Insightful)

Scareduck (177470) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245732)

It's not paranoid when they've established a consistent pattern of spying on citizens without cause in the wake of 9/11.

Re:WTF? (5, Insightful)

PhunkySchtuff (208108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246202)

It's not paranoid when they've established a consistent pattern of spying on citizens without cause in the wake of 9/11.

Yes, because everyone knows they weren't spying on you before 9/11.
Sure, their legally granted powers have increased without bounds since then, but they've been spying on you right from the start.

Re:WTF? (3, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247116)

Actually they weren't allowed to under previous law. So they simply paid the British and Australians to do it for them and did likewise for them.

Now that law doesn't exist so they don't need to bother with the loophole of paying a friendly country to do the spying job for them. You don't think the massive data center being built at Fort Williams in Utah is for spying on other countries do you?

Re:WTF? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38247596)

Actually, this is incorrect. Legally, the big five were not allowed to spy on each other: Australia, New Zealand, Canada, The United Kingdom and of course The United States [wikipedia.org], all collaborated on SIGINT, but were not allowed to intercept each other's communications. There were exceptions, however, such as Aid to Police, but this required warrants etc.

If a signal was being intercepted, and it was determined that one of it's end points was one of the five, it was no longer fair game to be intercepted.

If you read the above article (under controversy) it plainly accuses the US of misusing the material for its own ends.

As a former CF SIGINT Operator I can assure you that we at least did not bend or break the agreement.

Re:Jackasses (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245856)

Yeah they don't care about you because you have nothing. Wait until you have something (if ever). Then you'll understand.

Re:Jackasses (5, Funny)

datapharmer (1099455) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245728)

Psshht. shredding is for newbs. Shred, burn, mix ashes with sludge from numerous porta-potties, divide contents and freeze. Shoot it into the air with a homemade cannon. Let it be cherished by a naive meteorite collector where it is safe from discovery by the secret black helicopter cia-army-fbi-nsa police detectives and you are good to go.

Re:Jackasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38247128)

The papoorizer ?

Re:Jackasses (0)

gshegosh (1587463) | more than 2 years ago | (#38248486)

Get a web developer? "Your IP address based on the country, region or network has been flagged by the website owner." I'm in the middle of Europe. Get a web developer? I say GTFO.

Re:Jackasses (2)

Hyperhaplo (575219) | more than 2 years ago | (#38248504)

I use water.

There is a bucket in the corner, documents that have been scanned are tossed in the bucket, water is topped up every so often. Stir the paper around, bag the ball of gunk and recycle or garbage it.

Works quite well.

Re:Jackasses (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245778)

Seriously, now i can't even throw shredded paper on my neighbors yard without fear of getting caught.

Re:Jackasses (5, Insightful)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246056)

The government just PAID to prove that five shredding methods suck.

If you're still using them you're just a narcissistic terror poodle.

Re:Jackasses (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246316)

Oh for fucks sake. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU. There are no feds swooping in in black helicopters to dig through your garbage and piece together your shredded electric bill.

Honestly, mods, giving positive reinforcement to this sort of paranoia is only hurting the people suffering from it.

Re:Jackasses (3, Interesting)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246464)

The stories about them placing GPS modules in cars because the people bothered to make jokes on the internet or happened to be related to a criminal say otherwise.

And in this day and age, everybody's a criminal. The FBI follow up on every anonymous tip sent to them online, and no matter what you tell them, they will follow you around until you're officially deemed uninteresting. Then they'll check up on you every now and then just to make sure. And they will dig up something on you that will justify their interest.

This is what happens when elite law enforcement agencies operate like profit-seeking enterprises, instead of serving and protecting the people. It's bust, bust, bust as long as they make their numbers and get a bigger budget.

Re:Jackasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246614)

More like bust bust bust so they can sell the seized assets and use it to buy more cool gadgets.

Re:Jackasses (1)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246858)

I'm pretty sure the bar is a teensy bit higher than making a joke on the Internet. I know it's hard to make non-points like yours without hyperbole so you're sort of excused, but just know your bullshit doesn't pass a basic sniff test.

Re:Jackasses (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38247050)

I'm pretty sure the bar is a teensy bit higher than making a joke on the Internet. I know it's hard to make non-points like yours without hyperbole so you're sort of excused, but just know your bullshit doesn't pass a basic sniff test.

You're wrong [slashdot.org]. The offending comment [reddit.com]:

bombing a mall seems so easy to do. i mean all you really need is a bomb, a regular outfit so you arent the crazy guy in a trench coat trying to blow up a mall and a shopping bag. i mean if terrorism were actually a legitimate threat, think about how many fucking malls would have blown up already.. you can put a bag in a million different places, there would be no way to foresee the next target, and really no way to prevent it unless CTU gets some intel at the last minute in which case every city but LA is fucked...so...yea...now i'm surely bugged : /

Clearly, you can see how he presented a danger to national security theater.

Re:Jackasses (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253550)

I have to agree. The terorism threat is just hocus. It really would be ridiculously easy to hurt large numbers of people and wouldn't take a genius to come up with methods. If the threat was real we would often find ourselves knee deep in corpses.

Re:Jackasses (3, Interesting)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247484)

I was arrested for making a donut joke in front of an undercover cop once.

Seriously.

Well, that's not what they SAID though. They said it was "disorderly conduct."

Re:Jackasses (1)

naranek (1727936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38256816)

On an unrelated note, don't moderate on laggy browser, or you might accidentally the wrong choice. Posting to cancel the mod. Sorry. IGNORE ME!!!

Undercover? (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38267096)

Do you mean he (or seriously) blew cover to arrest you for a donut joke?

Around here blowing your cover for a non-serious issue can actually get an officer in trouble (according to what I've heard from other police).

Re:Undercover? (2)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38276156)

He did blow his cover, but not on the spot.
His whole crew did, I guess.

I was 18, made the remark in front of him on a street corner.
A few days later a cop car pulls up, they arrest me after I tell them I have no ID, and on the car ride downtown they say "soo.. we hear you think Buffalo cops are all too fat to run, huh? Well, the cop you might like to have a chance to talk to you about that. How would you like that?"

I just said "ok."

Charges were automatically dropped like 6 months later (ACD - Adjournment with Contemplation of Dismissal)
Cost me $350 for a lawyer because when I showed up without one the judge rescheduled and said to me angrily "don't come back here without a lawyer."

My view of the police and justice system dimmed somewhat as a result of this. The education was well worth the $350 though.

Re:Jackasses (1)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247922)

Ya know, i used to laugh at all the shit, now I'm not so sure. Whatever is coming out of those C130s that fly over sure as fuck ain't like anything they USED to fly and I've been watching them fly over from the local AFB since I was a kid so I'd have noticed, but whatever is in the C130s now leaves a film almost like crop dusting and whatever it is makes people hack like mad the next day.

So frankly who knows. I do know with all the lies they have been caught in from just the last 20 years i wouldn't trust my own government to tell me if its raining outside and that is kinda sad and more than a little scary.

Re:Jackasses (2)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250414)

Oh for fucks sake. THEY DON'T CARE ABOUT YOU.

Of course they do. As times keep on getting worse, the possibility of Joe 99% engaging in subversive actions gets ever greater, so if the 1% are to keep on looting the rest, they need to tighten the grip ever more. And of course, even in good times, "they" are people who love having power over others, either because they think they know better than everyone else or simply because they have issues.

There are no feds swooping in in black helicopters to dig through your garbage and piece together your shredded electric bill.

Of course not. It's spy drones [newsobserver.com] for overall surveillance, sewage analysis [nih.gov] to find any "undesirable" habits, and the electric bill goes to the government straight from the electric company.

Honestly, mods, giving positive reinforcement to this sort of paranoia is only hurting the people suffering from it.

Sadly, in the light of Carnivore and Palantir, I'd say it's not paranoia but well justified caution.

Re:Jackasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38254708)

I don't know about that.

My father joined a civil liberties group, in the '80s, that made FOIA requests for records on all its members (with their permission).

What came back, from the FBI, were copies of letters he had sent/received to/from family while he was in the U.S. army during WWII. Very tame boring stuff.

This was a long time ago, and the police state has just been getting worse. They also had to intercept, open, copy, and reseal physical letters. The bar is much lower now.

Black helicopters = silly. Suspicion of gov't (and corporate) spying on everything you do as you go about the boring details of your insignificant existence... I wouldn't be so quick to discount it.

Re:Jackasses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246766)

Because if the good guys don't study it, the bad guys won't either! Thanks, I always gotta be reminded of that.

Re:Jackasses (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250340)

Thanks for helping the government spy on me.

If you don't want the government to spy on you, burn the papers and scatter the ashes. Shredders have never provided any real security, since you can simply re-assemble the pieces by hand, it just takes a while.

opportunity (3, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245674)

There is a business opportunity for better shredders, the kind that would pulverize the paper or better just burn it.

A shredder with a vortex or a burner inside.

Don't get me wrong, it's an interesting technical challenge that this was done, but if you want to keep your paper out of government's hands you shouldn't be just shredding the paper.

Re:opportunity (5, Insightful)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246032)

Actually, it's not the "US government reading our stuff" thing that caused this whole contest. If The NSA wants your credit card info, they'll just ask Visa for it, pay the usual fees, then just get it mailed to them.

The government shreds a lot of paper. Probably more in a day than I generate in a lifetime. The Classified shit they shred when they're done (IAW DOD-WTF-1234) because it's easier than burning. Trust me, you don't want to burn Classified stuff.

Someone probably said, "hey, do you guys think that with today's video cards and CPU power, someone could unshred our shit?"

"Oh... aw fuck, Dave, I dunno. Let's ask DARPA."

Thus the challenge.

Re:opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246476)

LOL, WAT..its not even cross shredded. A $40 shredder does better than this. DARPA my ass.

Re:opportunity (1)

hamsolo474 (2477796) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246924)

why cant we burn classified stuff? if memory serves paper is pretty flammable. thats one of the great things about paper as a medium, its really fragile, hell if they wanted to they could wet the paper, mix up some plaster, turn the classified documents into paper mache and then shoot it to shit when it dries, theres no coming back from that.

Re:opportunity (1)

wasme (35127) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247336)

You don't want to burn classified stuff because the government can read what was on the paper from the smoke patterns rising from the incinerator. . (Yes, the above was a joke. And not an original one either. I heard it a few years ago when an ex-government spook was being interviewed on the radio and he was talking about how paranoid he'd become about destroying personal information. Referring to how much he learned over his career about the tools available to recover stuff (from paper, or from harddrives, or whatever else. I'm sure he didn't actually believe the smoke thing either ...)

Re:opportunity (1)

TheLink (130905) | more than 2 years ago | (#38248588)

I think the trick is to somehow make an incinerator that's the size of an office shredder, is very safe and can handle paper AND staples/paper clips without breaking.

The trouble is the safety bit especially when the device has to be small.

Anyone can make a big incinerator. I suppose in top secret places, you'd shred the documents first then send the results to be incinerated. So the documents are exposed in shredded form only within the premise.

Re:opportunity (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38259752)

There was an incident a decade or two back where a US TLA shut down one of its document incinerators for maintenance, and they decided to inspect it since it was offline. They dug around the ashes and found totally intact burn bags. They were piling them in so fast and deep that it squeezed out the oxygen and the bags on the bottom didn't burn.

I think there was an engineering and procedure mod before the incinerator went back online.

Re:opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38248700)

Paper doesn't burn well. A sheet of paper makes good kindling because it has a large surface area to volume ratio, but even destroying every letter on a single sheet requires you to retrieve and stir the ashes well. In bulk, you need to supply a lot of fuel to keep the temperature high - that's why incinerators are usually gas-powered.

Re:opportunity (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247088)

The government shreds a lot of paper. Probably more in a day than I generate in a lifetime. The Classified shit they shred when they're done (IAW DOD-WTF-1234) because it's easier than burning. Trust me, you don't want to burn Classified stuff.

Someone probably said, "hey, do you guys think that with today's video cards and CPU power, someone could unshred our shit?"

"Oh... aw fuck, Dave, I dunno. Let's ask DARPA."

Thus the challenge.

Not at all.
When the government shreds classified documents, at a bare minimum, they turn it into confetti.
At the highest classification levels, you end up with strips less than 1mm x 5mm.
There's nothing recoverable from that level of shred.

Re:opportunity (1)

ultranova (717540) | more than 2 years ago | (#38250584)

At the highest classification levels, you end up with strips less than 1mm x 5mm.
There's nothing recoverable from that level of shred.

Of course there is, it's just a lot of work. Scan the pieces, find likely matching edges for each piece based on how closely they match, then start going through various combinations based on image (letter shape) recognition, filter based on a dictionary (what combinations create legible words).

Re:opportunity (1)

kcitren (72383) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253134)

Documents are shredded one by one, a bag full of shredded materials might have hundreds of pages in it, each cross-shredded uniformly.

Re:opportunity (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246048)

What is this "paper"?
Why does it hold your secrets?
No matter. Encrypt.

Re:opportunity (3, Interesting)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246582)

Not really. There are already tons of better shredders, and they don't cost a whole lot. I bought one that cuts pieces into little diamond-shaped bits about 1/3 of the size of the shreds shown in the DARPA challenge. It cost me about $125 at an office supply store.

The one that is at my office, for non-classified documents, cuts into little squares about 2mm x 2mm. The one for the Confidential documents does a better job that that. Most of the stuff looks like powder instead of shreds.

Anyway, this isn't about spy vs spy stuff. It is for basic corporate and citizen espionage. How simple is it to piece together stuff you grab from drug dealers and other criminals who bought a shredder at an office supply store?

Re:opportunity (2)

Fnord666 (889225) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247018)

Anyway, this isn't about spy vs spy stuff.

Funny you should say that, because actually it was. See the solution to the challenge and the puzzles for full details.

Re:opportunity (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253576)

Anyway, this isn't about spy vs spy stuff. It is for basic corporate and citizen espionage. How simple is it to piece together stuff you grab from drug dealers and other criminals who bought a shredder at an office supply store?

Whatever happened to flash paper

Re:opportunity (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249070)

Assume for environmental reasons that you don't want to burn the docs and you want to recycle the paper. One tactic might be to scrape off the top layer of the doc so the printing is removed. Another method might be to shred the paper so that a human cannot handle the pieces for re-assembly either by making the pieces really small or by tearing the edges so they are too hairy to fit together.

Re:opportunity (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249086)

I wouldn't be concerned about any environment at all if the threat to me is from a gov't. I would only be concerned with my secrets. Environment is not even in the distant back of my mind when I want to hide my secrets from a gov't.

Re:opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38250454)

Do you own a cell phone, debit or credit card? - /puzzled.

Re:opportunity (1)

wwphx (225607) | more than 2 years ago | (#38259726)

A friend of mine worked crypto during the Vietnam War. He told me about a shredder they had that you put a document in one end and you got dust out of the other. If you weren't wearing a mask and you inhaled a lungful of it, it could kill you.

I don't think it's practical tech for home use.

Re:opportunity (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38260622)

Shredded paper burners are a bear to build. Usually they are an inner drum for a fire chamber and an outer drum you blow the burning air through on the way to the fire box to keep it from melting. The temps in the firebox easily exceed 2k degrees Fahrenheit. You have to pulse the fire rather than continuous burn or you slag your chimney, and the chimneys are rather short lived anyway. On an emergency destruct burn at Pleiku where we didn't care if we slagged our document incinerator the operator ran full bore for every charge and eventually got the chimney white hot.

The RR unit I was with in Viet Nam eventually had a chimney made out of 1/4 inch armorplate. It only lasted a little longer.

I thought we covered this in 1985? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38245692)

Thanks for the memories, Slashdot. First thing I thought of was Hacker [wikipedia.org] and haggling with the spies for shredded strips of Magma Ltd.'s world domination plans.

Ob Rainbow's End reference (4, Interesting)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245694)

Vernor Vinge's 2006 novel Rainbow's End [wikipedia.org] explained how a library was being digitized by shredding all the books, thus destroying the analog knowledge.

One step closer...

Re:Ob Rainbow's End reference (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38245788)

You have a peculiar definition of 'destroying'...

Re:Ob Rainbow's End reference (1)

AceJohnny (253840) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245868)

You're right, s/knowledge/artifact/. People have an attachment to the physical objects long after it's become obsolete, which is why I still buy hardcover books in this age encroaching e-books. The novel explores these themes well.

Re:Ob Rainbow's End reference (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247646)

damn right.

I have TONS of info on my zip disks that is perfectly preserved.

Now if I can just find a PC with a printer port to hook the old Zip interface to, and a working drive that doesn't have the click of death, and driver software for Windows 7, I can get at my old data any time I want!

Re:Ob Rainbow's End reference (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249314)

I have a working Zip Drive, SCSI. I also have the cables and a card, along with the drivers and an old 386SX that will read it.

Not that I have a VGA monitor anymore....

Re:Ob Rainbow's End reference (1)

uninformedLuddite (1334899) | more than 2 years ago | (#38253586)

Once the analog copies are gone the digital can be changed at anytime without evidence of the change being available it becomes the new truth. So yes destroyed is the right term.

Meh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38245698)

Wake me up when they have the Ash Challenge.

Re:Meh (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246830)

and that is why a wood stove is so nice, you have a warrent to go through my home, or you break in to steal confidential information, fine and if you want my documents they are in that bucket of ash i haven't had the time to dump in the woods behind my house. go to.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38252936)

Ashes can be deciphered. _Wet_ ashes are useless.

Re:Meh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38253946)

> Wake me up when they have the Ash Challenge.

IIRC, Those are decrypted with rubber hoses.

$50,000 (2)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245706)

Previous topics included that the abilities gained were worth far more than $50,000.

So was this a fancy Job Application?

As I said before... (4, Interesting)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245850)

I don't see this being very useful for overseas operations. They mentioned before this would be good for recovering documents shredded by "warlords' operations" but that doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. Many of the warlords we are most concerned about right now have such a dramatically different sense of morality than our own that they use rape as a weapon - or tool, really - of war.

Why, then, would we expect them to use a shredder for their documents, when they can much more easily set fire to the documents? No amount of de-shredding is going to put back together documents that have been incinerated.

I suspect we are much more likely to see this used by the FBI than the CIA or DOD.

Re:As I said before... (4, Informative)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38245938)

You might be suprised. A fire can be dangerous, a shredder is convenient. Also, we can reconstruct documents that have been burned, and if you have a big stack it can actually take longer to burn them beyond recovery. Why? It's about oxygen availability - the corners, top and bottom pages will burn first, but the center of a pile of documents will often remain intact, yielding valuable intelligence if recovered.

Having looked up the shred, it seems to be standard commercial shred sizes - the DOD goes quite a bit smaller than that.

Re:As I said before... (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246288)

A fire can be dangerous, a shredder is convenient

A warlord is more or less equally as dangerous as uncontrolled fire.

if you have a big stack it can actually take longer to burn them beyond recovery. Why? It's about oxygen availability - the corners, top and bottom pages will burn first, but the center of a pile of documents will often remain intact

That is assuming that someone is burning only paper. Indeed, a stack of paper can be a bitch to burn beyond recognition. But if you're in the business of raping women and torching villages, you just throw the documents into a building that you are going to burn to the ground and then you leave town. Eventually the temperature of the fire gets high enough that the paper incinerates well beyond any hope of recovery.

And fire is one thing that warlords are almost universally good at. One may find themselves in a place where electricity for running a shredder is hard - or even impossible - to come by, but they can always find something they are interested in burning to the ground, even when they are fleeing someone else.

Re:As I said before... (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246758)

But if you're in the business of raping women and torching villages, you just throw the documents into a building that you are going to burn to the ground

Just for clarification... are you suggesting that a warlord leave his sensitive documents with a henchman to leave in a building that they must then burn to the ground. then leave without verifying that it succeeded?

Heh. That reminds me of the Onion article where the US offered to donate Al-Qaeda 600 million dollars so they could build a fancy HQ building.

Re:As I said before... (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#38260232)

A warlord is more or less equally as dangerous as uncontrolled fire.

Just because he's unconcerned with the safety of others and their stuff, doesn't mean that he's unconcerned about the safety of himself and his stuff.

That is assuming that someone is burning only paper. Indeed, a stack of paper can be a bitch to burn beyond recognition. But if you're in the business of raping women and torching villages, you just throw the documents into a building that you are going to burn to the ground and then you leave town. Eventually the temperature of the fire gets high enough that the paper incinerates well beyond any hope of recovery.

You're positing a pretty one-dimensional warlord in this case, who always has a building at hand to torch whenever he needs to dispose of some documents. Most warlords aren't fighting all the time, and often the important papers are back at his palatial palace of an HQ, where he DOES have electricity most, if not all of the time due to being first on the repair list and having backup generators.

MobileTatsu makes a good point - some documents are too sensitive to trust to minions OR an unmonitored burning building. You never know, you could toss your documents into the fire then the US operatives sweep in and recover them. Proper forensics can reconstruct a surprising amount of information from burned, but not stirred, documents.

Re:As I said before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246378)

In many parts of the world, a fire is convenient and warm, while a shredder is expensive.

Re:As I said before... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246912)

Shred the documents, then burn them.

those warlords are our allies in the GWOT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246256)

like Islam Karimov, "president" of Uzbekistan.

Re:As I said before... (1)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246360)

Just because they're barbaric in the moral sense doesn't mean they are in the technological sense. They are quite capable of using computers and cell phones and shredders.

Re:As I said before... (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246646)

They are quite capable of using computers and cell phones and shredders.

They certainly are. However a shredder requires electricity, and warlords often thrive in areas with inconsistent (or worse) electricity. In comparison, any hack with matches and gasoline can torch a building, day or night.

Re:As I said before... (1)

gatkinso (15975) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249322)

DOCEX (document exploitation) is a very active activity within the armed forces.

Re:As I said before... (1)

pryoplasm (809342) | more than 2 years ago | (#38249420)

It seems to me that a large amount of people commenting in this have not tried to burn a large amount of paper, something easily 20-30 reams worth of documents worth....

From personal experience, burning is an option, but as my oh so wise leadership mentioned during the burning " It would burn quicker if you shredded it first...."

As a loyal Merican (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38245994)

I'd be happy to help train DARPA's AI, but not when it's going to assist such an unconstitutional monster as the Patriot Act. That's like, you know, pumping the bellows on the forge building your chains.

simplified test (5, Informative)

demonbug (309515) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246040)

The test was actually much simpler than any real-world application might be. Each puzzle was really only one or two (or a few) shredded pages, with various degrees of shredding and various bits of writing. It is a first step, but nowhere near what you would be dealing with in any real-world situation where hundreds or thousands of pages of shredded documents would be mixed together.

I participated (a bit) with the UCSD team that basically made a crowd-sourced jigsaw puzzle to do it - at last check they were in the top 5, but I don't think they got the last puzzle (yet). This approach seems reasonable for the relatively simple puzzles of the challenge, but it really wouldn't scale very well - requires a lot of labor.

It sounds like the winning team had a much better (and more scaleable) strategy, where an algorithm scores all of the pieces for fit in a particular place and then allows the user(s) to choose the best piece from a few high-scoring ones. While I still don't think this would work very well in a real-world scenario, obviously it would work better than depending on massive crowd sourcing.

Re:simplified test (3, Interesting)

fluffy99 (870997) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246620)

The test was actually much simpler than any real-world application might be. Each puzzle was really only one or two (or a few) shredded pages, with various degrees of shredding and various bits of writing.

Yes and no. The finest shred was actually pretty close to the current DOD spec of 1mm x 5mm for classified documents. You'll find that most sensitive but not classified shredders shred into much larger pieces, somewhere in the middle of the range given in the contest. You are correct that a typical shred bag has a large quantity of shredded pages mixed together.

Still DARPA got what they wanted - ideas on how to approach this problem. I doubt crowd sourcing is a viable option for them, but it was interesting to see the method.

Re:simplified test (1)

deroby (568773) | more than 2 years ago | (#38251994)

True, but it's unlikely to find a heap of shreds related to 2-3 pages.
It's more likely you'll find the equivalent of hundreds of pages thrown together in a heap.
This makes scanning a much bigger job (*), as well as the actual piecing stuff together again.

(*: I haven't checked the results yet, but did they consider that each piece has two sides ?)

Explanation of strategy for the Shredder Challenge (5, Interesting)

De Lemming (227104) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246224)

Here's a nice explanation of the participant which reassembled four of the five documents, finishing in third place.

You should probably start burning your mail: What I learned from the DARPA Shredder Challenge [marcnewlin.com].

Re:Explanation of strategy for the Shredder Challe (1)

MicroSlut (2478760) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246326)

Four out of five documents? I thought it would be a trash bag with two reams of shredded low-quality office depot brand paper. Let's see them digitize that! It's not like they can use a document feeder.

Future Competitions (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38248622)

Does anyone know of a site (other than slashdot) that finds and publishes open competitions like this one? Thank You.

Shredders are good enough for classified docs (5, Informative)

intx13 (808988) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246252)

NSA-approved shredders are good enough for destroying classified documents up to TS; the shredded remains do not need to be controlled. The shreddings are fine enough that no piece of output can contain a single glyph at any reasonable font size. The shreddings of even a single piece of paper are shuffled together by the action of the blades. These shredders aren't cheap, but I bet they'll stand up to state-level threats of reconstruction for the next 10 years or so.

If that's not good enough, some locations use burn-boxes - never trust a machine to do thermodynamic's job!

Re:Shredders are good enough for classified docs (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246864)

The NSA-approved shredder I used made chad so fine that the frayed fibres
at the edges made up a large percentage and maybe the majority of the surface
of each chad. There is so much information lost in that area that it may not be
possible to reconstruct such documents in the future even with state-level resources.

All your cheats? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246420)

Weren't "All Your Shreds Are Belong To U.S" the cheating assholes that sabotaged their rival's (UCSD?) crowd-source effort?

Stasi (2)

crash123 (2523388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38246734)

In 1989 when the MfS offices were stormed they tried to shred a whole lot of documents, according to wikipedia there are still 16000 bags of shredded documents to reassemble. I think it would be a really useful application of the outcome of this contest to help put some of those documents back together.

Re:Stasi (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 2 years ago | (#38247394)

Thats always a fun one. Some in the West helped the East or where blackmailed.
With everyday of sorting, a name might drop out.
Just think what the East had on some EU political parties too :)

Geographic shredding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246738)

Any time I shred serious stuff, I split the resultant shred into 5 different bags and deposit them in locked trash containers in various buildings over a 5 mile radius.

Or, I put one bag out with the trash each week over 5 different weeks.

Or, I burn one of the bags, and put the other four out in four separate trash cans.

That's how I roll.

Two words: Black Hole (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38246946)

This is why I send all of my old documents into the nearest Black Hole. Nothing comes out of those.

Shred and feed to worms. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38247130)

Shred.
Feed shreds to worm bin.
Use worm castings in planters/garden.
Grow sunflowers.
Collect sunflower seeds.
Seed-bomb empty lots.
Provide nectar & pollen for bumble bees and solitary bees.

What A Waste of Fucking Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38247978)

Now the world will move on to burning, wet-shred/pulping, and chemical treatment/bleaching where ultra-high security is necessary.

I mean really, what did this prove?

That paper shredding is about as effective as triple DES?

Re:What A Waste of Fucking Money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38248004)

...also inking as the reverse to bleaching.

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