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German Authorities Find Al Qaeda Plans Disguised In Porn

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the will-just-be-in-the-other-room-looking-for-more dept.

Communications 332

According to CNN, which credits Hamburg-based newspaper Die Zeit, German investigators have uncovered a trove of more than 100 Al Qaeda documents recovered from a "digital storage device" (and memory cards) which were found hidden in the underpants of Austrian citizen Maqsood Lodin, who had recently traveled to Pakistan. The documents "included an inside track on some of the terror group's most audacious plots and a road map for future operations." Among these future plots: "[S]eizing cruise ships and carrying out attacks in Europe similar to the gun attacks by Pakistani militants that paralyzed the Indian city of Mumbai in November 2008." The documents were reportedly neither in plain view nor simply encrypted, but instead steganographically embedded in a pornographic video.

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What is it with terrorists? (5, Funny)

Lucas123 (935744) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857551)

They seem to love stuffing things down their pants, from bombs to porno-packed digital storage. This eventually will not turn out well for the propagation of their cause.

It's a Trap!!!! (4, Interesting)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857725)

We all know these religious zealots hate pornography! This must mean the reason they are doing this is instead to terrorize US citizens!!! How? From now on the TSA will request all pornography in your laptop or smartphone be carefully analyzed, frame by frame, before you board your flight!!! They may simply force you to trash your smartphones, laptops and tablets just like they do with your coke!

Conspiracy Theory B:
This was hoaxed by the TSA themselves so they have legal reasons to confiscate cool looking laptops, new top of the line smart phones, and expensive tablets!

Stego (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857557)

Of course, a terrorist group wouldn't use one of the most widely-distributed types of video to conceal information in plain sight, knowing that communication with the actual target would be concealed by the tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of others downloading it.

Absent the decryption key and/or software, I can't see a solid basis for destroying this guy's life. Of course, that won't stop them. New terrorist strategy: Make everyone a terrorist by distributing encoded terrorist documents.

Re:Stego (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857683)

or perhaps: don't steal porn? one of the many good reasons to actually pay for stuff is that there is an accountable retailer.

Re:Stego (4, Insightful)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857719)

one of the many good reasons to actually pay for stuff is that there is an accountable retailer.

Yeah, like Sony.

Re:Stego (4, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857737)

That sort of argument is unlikely to fly in front of a jury given all the other evidence against him. Bear in mind this wasn't just a random stop-and-search, they already suspected he was an al-Qaeda member. He tried to hide the incriminating files. Probably more that isn't in the story.

Having said that, I think this sort of story just re-inforces the general impression that the counter-terrorism apparatus is way too big for the size of the threat it presently faces. If this is the way AQ move sensitive files around, they are clearly unable to recruit members with any technical sophistication. I can easily believe intelligence agencies have got a lot better over time, not to mention ruthless and focused, but it seems that if these guys can pull off a devastating attack then basically anyone can and we may as well give up now. No need for "training in Pakistan" for those guys.

Re:Stego (5, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858117)

That sort of argument is unlikely to fly in front of a jury given all the other evidence against him.

Correct. Most juries make their decisions based on emotional reasoning, rather than on the law. That's why so many people are in prison in this country compared to others, and also why so many innocent people are released from prison every year based on new evidence.

Bear in mind this wasn't just a random stop-and-search, they already suspected he was an al-Qaeda member.

And this is why juries so often convict innocent people: Suspicion equivocates to guilt for many people.

He tried to hide the incriminating files.

Pornography is prohibited in Pakistan, even when viewing it in the privacy of your own home. It's legal in Austria, the country he was from. So upon arriving in Austria from Pakistan, is it really that unusual?

Having said that, I think this sort of story just re-inforces the general impression that the counter-terrorism apparatus is way too big for the size of the threat it presently faces

Irony, defined: Saying that counter-terrorism apparatus is way too big, while unintentionally demonstrating exactly why it is too big.

If this is the way AQ move sensitive files around, they are clearly unable to recruit members with any technical sophistication.

The use of steganography is not exactly widespread; And despite the simplicity of the concept, most everyday people in this country couldn't tell you what it is, nor provide any examples of it. This is likely broadly true of the general population worldwide. So your argument here is invalid: The very use of steganographic techniques indicates an above-average level of technical proficiency.

I can easily believe intelligence agencies have got a lot better over time, not to mention ruthless and focused, but it seems that if these guys can pull off a devastating attack then basically anyone can and we may as well give up now.

If you never try, you'll never succeed. Defeatism is not an attribute I want in any person, group, or organization who's charter is to save my ass from a suicide bomber. I sincerely hope you feel similar.

No need for "training in Pakistan" for those guys.

They train all over the world, and yet very few of them succeed in their attacks. If I were rooting for the other team, I would conclude that the training is inadequate. However, I am not, so I am thankful their training sucks. Keep getting an 'F' in "Death to America 101" guys.

Re:Stego (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858307)

Given the Muslim attitude towards porn, it is no surprise that he would try to hide the incriminating files. That is not at all relevant evidence of guilt, and would probably be stricken from the record on first amendment grounds if the prosecution were foolish enough to bring it up.

However, the fact that the person did try to hide it might be construed as probable cause to ask for a search warrant to look for further evidence, in which case either this guy has the ability to decode that information or he doesn't, so he's either probably guilty or probably not.

Re:Stego (4, Insightful)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857755)

Of course, that won't stop them. New terrorist strategy: Make everyone a terrorist by distributing encoded terrorist documents

I'm frankly surprised the child-porn sickos haven't been doing this for some time. Imagine a virus that installs a torrent client or other peer-to-peer style network on the computers it infests, then starts distributing porn from PC to PC. It would add a lot of plausible denyability to the fact that you had the stuff on your PC, if the virus was also there.

Re:Stego (0)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857841)

>>>child-porn sickos

Careful there. The Supreme Court has ruled that child porn is illegal. Child nudity is not (else nudist beaches/clubs/websites would be banned).

Re:Stego (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857929)

Um, yeah. Pretty sure the word "porn" is right there.

Re:Stego (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858111)

I'm frankly surprised the child-porn sickos haven't been doing this for some time

You clearly over-estimate the size of the global child porn conspiracy. You and everyone else. But let's just keep using it as an excuse to destroy our rights.

Re:Stego (0)

moeinvt (851793) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857949)

"a terrorist group wouldn't use one of the most widely-distributed types of video to conceal information in plain sight"

Yes, but he wasn't concealing it in "plain sight". The storage medium was hidden in his pants. That's the part of this "plot" that doesn't make sense to me. If the authorities find something being 'smuggled' they instantly know the person has something to hide. Was the idea that he would feel compelled to hide this simply because of the porn itself?

Sounds like another orchestrated stunt based on the plot of a cheap spy novel to perpetuate a culture of fear in the U.S. and Europe.

There is no Al Qaeda.

Re:Stego (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858053)

If the authorities find something being 'smuggled' they instantly know the person has something to hide.

Yeah. The "nothing to hide nothing to fear" argument makes complete sense, after all.

Re:Stego (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858233)

Was the idea that he would feel compelled to hide this simply because of the porn itself?

Pornography is illegal in Pakistan. It is legal in Austria. He was arriving in Austria from Pakistan when they found the flash drive in his pants. Do the math.

Re:Stego (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857961)

So it just so happens that two videos on this guy's drive both contained Al Qaeda files? And he was smuggling them in his underpants because... he thinks porn is illegal? And it's just a coincidence that he was recently in Pakistan? And another coincidence that he was traveling with a man suspected of setting up the German branch of the Taliban?

Come on, I know that 90% of anti-terrorism security is just theatre, and so we're conditioned to dismiss any successes it claims, but be rational.

And anyway, there's an easy way to check -- go on the various torrent sites and download all the distinct copies of "Kick Ass" and "Sexy Tanja" you can find. Are any of them exact matches for the files this guy was transporting? If no, he's guilty. If yes, we gain valuable information on how Al Qaeda is communicating, and some lucky federal agent gets the job to download porn all day.

Re:Stego (2)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858239)

A fundie Muslim just might hide porn in his pants, not wanting his colleagues to know he's got it. It's at least more plausible than hiding it in MS Word documents or vacation snapshots, which would make no sense whatsoever to conceal. I'd guess that stego-encoding the info was a one-last-line-of-defense tactic, so that even if the files were discovered and the operative caught, or if he dropped the storage device somewhere, at least there'd be a chance that officials wouldn't find the plans. Kind of like OBL having a gun to carry around the house in Abbottabad, it wasn't really a lynchpin of their defense strategy, but it couldn't hurt and it just might help, so they'd be stupid not to try it.

Re:Stego (2, Insightful)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857975)

Absent the decryption key and/or software, I can't see a solid basis for destroying this guy's life. Of course, that won't stop them. New terrorist strategy: Make everyone a terrorist by distributing encoded terrorist documents.

If you or I were caught with the video, then claiming that we knew nothing about any hidden content is plausible. But neither of us are suspected terrorists, had ties to suspected terrorist organizations, have traveled to regions of Pakistan known for terrorist training camps, or were found with multiple memory cards hidden in our underwear...that just happened to have a porn video with a lot of hidden content very pertinent to terrorist organizations.

I believe in innocent before proven guilty and all that...but this guy was in serious trouble long before the contents of the hidden information was actually discovered. His life wasn't destroyed by the discovery, it already was. This just is another significant piece of evidence that chips away at it just being circumstantial evidence and piles on the beyond reasonable doubt (or whatever a German equivalent would be)

Re:Stego (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857983)

This isn't some random dude who got nabbed because something incriminating got planted on his laptop, "in plain sight" to be found by random no-thought-required screening. He was concealing it because he knew it would get him in trouble with security agents if found, and it was found because he and his companion "...were on a watch list, and when they handed over documents at a European border crossing, their names registered with counterterrorism agencies. ...Ocak is also charged with helping to form a group called the German Taliban Mujahedeen, and is alleged to have made a video for the group threatening attacks in Germany.... Prosecutors believe the pair met at a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's tribal territories and were sent back to Europe to recruit a network of suicide bombers." (from TFA)

While your clever strategy is certainly possible, and can be effective at disrupting the kind of security theater that the TSA performs, that's not what's happening here. This is an example of good old-fashioned investigative, targeted counter-espionage working.

Honestly... (2)

hubang (692671) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857559)

I'm shocked that this didn't come out 10 years ago. Scary terrorists might be hiding secret communications in internet porn. It's alarming, and racy. All you need for a good news story.

Re:Honestly... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857777)

The story did come out 10 years ago, this is the first time anybody actually claimed to find evidence.

Re:Honestly... (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857821)

Why is that scary? Intelligence agencies have used broadcast media to communicate with spies in the field for many decades now. Look up "numbers stations" -- you could tune in to many of these broadcasts any time you want.

Squirrel!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857565)

Sir this is why we need to look through your pron collection

I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857567)

...how many times the authorities had to watch the video to figure out there was something wrong with it?
Amazing when hobbies and real-world applicability collide.
lol

Re:I wonder... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857837)

Hey, those breasts don't look right....

No! I don't mean the bad boob job, I mean there's something wrong with the bits!

I need higher resolution on that tit! Enhance!

Re:I wonder... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858071)

I need higher resolution on that tit! Enhance!

I believe the correct technical term in this context would be "Augment!"

So now we know (4, Funny)

Sulphur (1548251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857575)

Why Bin Laden was watching porn.

Re:So now we know (1)

gparent (1242548) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857729)

It'd be really interesting if they went back to evidence and found something like this. unfortunately I doubt our good friend Laden would be down and dirty with steno plans, it'd be pretty stupid for the head of a terrorist group.

Re:So now we know (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857885)

They were a gift from brother Bush?

Re:So now we know (1)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858135)

While applying Just For Men on his graying beard.

Post video please (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857577)

I really would like to see this video, so I can become familiar with their steganographic techniques.
You know, for science.

Re:Post video please (1)

eugene ts wong (231154) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857775)

Yes, as a skeptic, I will not be convinced until I can see the evidence. They need to submit the porn to a magazine...I mean a peer reviewed journal.

This needs to be reproduced in the lab, as well.

Re:Post video please (2)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857861)

This needs to be reproduced in the lab, as well.

Are we saying there's bestiality involved

In that case count me out :)

Re:Post video please (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857845)

You know, 10 years ago there were a lot of claims that this was happening, and I imagine there was a three-letter-agency department assigned to screening all the potential stego carrier material.

Re:Post video please (2)

Bongo (13261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858157)

Don't forget to also examine the pork sausages and bacon.

Anything else un-Islamic they could be carrying? A copy of "Feminism is for Everybody"? A CND flag? A kilt?

Re:Post video please (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858249)

Yep, it's my patriotic duty to make sure there aren't more of these messages out there. I bet they hide them in the really weird stuff too...

Evidence (1)

CaptainPinko (753849) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857585)

Lets say I'll be examining this "evidence" my self. I'm not quite sure they are up to the job, and I feel I should give them a hand.

Re:Evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857661)

Remember the first rule of wing-walking, and save a hand for yourself.

Dual Purposes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857587)

Pornography is counter to Islam. So, whoever has knowledge of the embedded plans will be honor-bound to destroy themselves and any others who have bared witness.

Re:Dual Purposes (4, Funny)

bugs2squash (1132591) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857667)

Sounds like they bared more than just witness.

Re:Dual Purposes (1)

El Torico (732160) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858229)

Pornography is counter to Islam.

So is adultery, prostitution, and drinking alcohol, but it's easy to see those prohibitions being violated every weekend in the UAE and Bahrain.

Dumb (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857593)

Steganographically hide sensitive information in an innocuous looking video, and then hide it in your underpants thus guaranteeing it will arouse suspicion on discovery. How stupid are these guys??

Re:Dumb (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857631)

Hehe... "arouse"!

Steganography is suspicious on its own (3, Informative)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857699)

So you find some pornography files in a strange place (a guy's underwear -- maybe not that strange), and the reason you think there is some hidden message is...? Oh, yeah, you also found the steganography software that was used for encoding and decoding, and then just brute forced the passphrase (RTFA). So the fact that the memory card was in the guy's underwear is actually irrelevant -- the same thing would have happened had the card been in his wallet, backback, tablet, etc.

This is the classic warden problem, applied to terrorists.

Re:Steganography is suspicious on its own (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858161)

So you find some pornography files in a strange place (a guy's underwear -- maybe not that strange)....

Maybe not so strange for you, Sparky.

So the fact that the memory card was in the guy's underwear is actually irrelevant...

Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of logic?

Re:Steganography is suspicious on its own (5, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858181)

It's all about layers.

Hiding data in your underpants is very suspicious.

Keeping a steganography program along with the data is very suspicious.

Having a big stash of porn if you're a fundementalist is a little bit suspicious.

All those are independent.

The fact it was in his underwear is definitely relevant, since the whole point of steganography is to hide. Every time you do something suspicious to make people look harder, you defeat the purpose of the steganography.

If it was a memory card in his backpack, in his camera, which matched his camera, had consistent dates and had a bunch of touristy videos on it and nothing else, they might wehh lave not looked any further.

Of course they might have done.

But if most of the files were chaff and had embedded random data (to make the noise levels match) and one had encryped data, even with a moderately good password, they might well have wasted a ton of time on the wrong files and given up.

The fact he had it hidden in his pants pretty much guaranteed that they looked until they found something.

Of course if he'd done all that and had a really good password, they would have been SOL, either way. They would have probably been very suspicious, but unable to prove anything either way.

Re:Dumb (1)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857793)

Steganographically hide sensitive information in an innocuous looking video, and then hide it in your underpants thus guaranteeing it will arouse suspicion on discovery. How stupid are these guys??

Maybe they mis-translated another article on security, that said you should have as many "layers" as possible between you and your attacker.

Re:Dumb (1)

Dracos (107777) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858007)

The discord you point out is why I have trouble believing these stories as they are presented. Sophisticated obfuscation techniques thwarted by boneheaded transport tactics, all done by Muslim fundamentalists embedding secrets in porn. It's just a bit too contrived and shiny.

Re:Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858301)

Is it any more "contrived and shiny" than a drug courier using the wrong entrance and getting a bunch of crooked TSA goons arrested?
You're either a Muslim "victim" or a weak minded LCF.

Re:Dumb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858069)

They should hide the stuff in Mormon documents and all kinds of Bible stuff, and carry it around their necks in a Jesus-shaped USB stick.

Re:Dumb (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858295)

crucifix shape would work better or a FISH maybe

how was the data detected (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857595)

So how did they find the documents? If the data was steganographically embedded into video how was it detected? And how was it decrypted? My guess Maqsood Lodin sang like a canary.

The real question: (2, Interesting)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857607)

How did they come to the idea of checking the guy's porn for hidden documents?

Were they interested in the porn but found (by accident) the not-very-well-hidden documents?
Were they tipped?
Did they randomly analyse the contents?

None of these sound likely...

Re:The real question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857657)

Has to be a tip off. These organisations have been infiltrated by the Western Security Services. I'm sure his superiors are as we speak conducting some informal 'interviews'

Re:The real question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857659)

if he was not carrying it in his pants they probably would have thought nothing of it..

Re:The real question: (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857681)

When terrorists that follow sharia law are trading and carrying sharia contraband and an obvious vector for stego, it isn't difficult to make the next mental step.

Re:The real question: (1)

ericloewe (2129490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857999)

Just checked - TFA implies the guy was carrying the steganography software with him. They then seemingly brute-forced the porn he was carrying.

This is pretty much the same as keeping an encrypted file next to a text file with one long line of text.

Re:The real question: (1)

tnk1 (899206) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857889)

Maybe it is just standard procedure to analyze image documents for hidden content, no matter what the image is. And *especially* if it is smuggled in someone's pants.

I mean, we've only been reading articles on steganography since what, September 12, 2001? You'd think even security services might have figured it out by now.

Re:The real question: (1)

MastaBaba (530286) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857993)

Why wasn't it simply put up on YouPorn, or some similar website? It doesn't make sense: Let's hide our secret messages in this porn video so that no one can find our messages. And then, let's hide this porn video in someone's underwear... so that... no one can find it?

Re:The real question: (1)

pz (113803) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858199)

I'm thinking that a memory card being hidden in someone'ss underpants would be sufficient motivation for an investigator to give the contents some pretty serious scrutiny. Memory cards are innocuous and ubiquitous. There are millions-to-billions of them in circulation given that there's one in many cell phones, and one in most cameras. If one of them was hidden, then there's got to be a good reason. To make the card less suspicious this fellow should have shot a video of his (or someone's) kids doing somethig mundane like having a birthday party, done the steganography on that, and left the card in a well-worn point-and-shoot camera in his bag. Steganography works best when it's in plain view.

On the other hand, given that this card was found in the suspect's underpants means he was strip-searched, and so was under some pretty serious scrutiny already. Swallowing the card in a capsule might have been his only hope of transporting it undetected.

Re:The real question: (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858219)

Probably standard procedure to run a set of automated scans. Also, if the data was hidden via steganography in plaintext as opposed to encrypting it to look like (ie: Gaussian) noise in an audio/video file, then it sticks out like a sore thumb. You can just do local noise and autocorrelation estimates in small locales, and will be well on your way to figuring it out in no time. It's not that different from detecting how people have photoshopped an image, in the simpler cases.

http://www.errorlevelanalysis.com/ [errorlevelanalysis.com]

Hope you find it informative and interesting. :)

Homerolled crypto (0)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857627)

Given what we know about religious people, their black-and-white utter certainty about themselves and the world, it's not hard to see why they'd be stupid enough to try and roll their own security software.

Frankly, I'm delighted that our enemies are so stupid, and ecstatic that their stupidity is getting them killed.

Re:Homerolled crypto (5, Insightful)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857757)

11 years later, some are calling them stupid, but given the state of the United States, their plans seemes to have worked perfectly. Homogenizing religious people as stupid or ignorant seems like a pretty dangerous thing to do.

Re:Homerolled crypto (-1, Troll)

benjfowler (239527) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858289)

I'm okay with the Americans getting a blood nose; the West is a learning culture, and the US will emerge leaner, meaner, fitter and stronger.

The Islamic world is anything but. All they'll do is throw toddler temper tantrums, and just blame Whitey and the Jews, as always.

Jail time! (1)

CanEHdian (1098955) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857641)

Buried inside them was a pornographic video called "Kick Ass" -- and a file marked "Sexy Tanja."

Several weeks later, after laborious efforts to crack a password and software to make the file almost invisible, German investigators discovered encoded inside the actual video a treasure trove of intelligence

He'll get 5 years in jail for the terrorism charges, and 10 years in jail for copyright infringement. It's would be interesting to get some more background information. Was it one of those 'vault' type encrypted USB sticks? Were the authorities not at all surprised but tipped off about the steganography, or did one of them work so hard on it because it was pr0n, but noticed some weird pixellation? In other words, if it was called "Yoga for beginners" would they have bothered?

Thanks Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857645)

Next time anyone walks in on me watching porn, I'll just tell them I was looking for hidden terrorist plots.

"Honey i'm not watching porn i'm plotting to overt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857649)

"Honey i'm not watching porn i'm plotting to overthrow the western infidels ... HONEST!"

Job-saving thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857651)

First excuse the guy could come up with when his boss came into the office after hours and saw what he was looking at.

embedded in a pornographic video (1)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857653)

Great now I gotta go through 50 gig of downloaded
video to make sure it's clean.
How tiresome.

Or I could just invite the DHS to look at it. Surely they wouldn't put me into indefinite detainment for a having Al-Queda porn/documents? Nah. That's conspiracy talk.

Re:embedded in a pornographic video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858133)

If it means less passive-aggressive conspiracy talk from geek filth, then, please, get yourself sent to Gitmo, by all means.

Re:embedded in a pornographic video (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858237)

Or you could delete it, perv.

Not very good crypto or stego (2)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857671)

Without knowledge of the algorithm and key, with any even remotely good stego and crypto it sould be impossible to prove that anything is hidden, since good crypto looks like perfetly random data.

Even if the authorities strongly suspect that there is stego'd data, and they know the algorithm, the best they can do is extract a list of random bits corresponding to what they believe to be hidden.

If the setgo algorithm is sound, then there is no way of proving that the data source isn't just a bit noisy.

Then, there should be no way of decrypting the data, or even proving it is non-random.

Unless they used a very weak password, and the authorities new enough about the organisation to have a limited pool of crypto and stego algorithms to try.

Either that or they inferred the most likely one time pad, based on the presence of a beard and arabic sounding name on the suspect.

Re:Not very good crypto or stego (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857731)

Wouldn't be surprised if it was a bunch of bars bouncing up and down the screen made to look like a TV recording or some crap.

Or really obvious structured static.

Re:Not very good crypto or stego (1)

udoschuermann (158146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858113)

I can't claim to be an expert on the topic, but there are likely statistical methods to determine the probability that an image is naturally noisy, or made so by artificial means (i.e. proof that steganography is present). Even in extreme cases the crypto would still protect the message itself, until someone pulls out the $5 wrench.

Re:Not very good crypto or stego (5, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858173)

Steno doesn't require encryption. It prevents the information from getting into the hands of the opposition to begin with. They are probably under the assumption that trying to encrypt something (A) is a waste of time if they are likely to have the resources to break it and (B) will attract attention.

Analysis of randomness is quite an advanced science. It's not nearly as difficult as you might imagine to spot an anomaly in random data. Few things in life are truly random, and if you are familiar enough with the kind of randomness in something, you will have a very good statistical chance of noticing it.

As for the steno itself, there's a double-edged sword there. The same as encryption, only a fool designs his own. Without a really deep understanding of encryption it's easy to make a subtle mistake in you design that introduces a significant weakness. So on that hand we have to assume they are using something at least somewhat commonly available. But that's where the other edge gets you... it becomes MUCH easier to spot steno'd data when you are checking for a list of specific methods of steno. The analysis tool will scan the data against dozens or hundreds of common tools, and draw a nice graph with the line mostly hanging around the 2% point at the bottom, except for one eyesore of a spike for one of the tests. Then they take off the gloves and get to work.

Just tossing out a very basic example, lets say they are steno'ing encrypted data into a big tiff by overwriting the LSB on teach byte. Visually you won't notice this because the difference is too small Mathematically the data you're storing is more-or-less flat random. BUT the data you replaced ISN'T. The LSB in an image is far from noise, and will have areas that are related by their relative position in the image. This will stick out like a sore thumb when you run a little analysis on the bits in the image. It'll be too random. And at this point your steno is busted, and it comes down to breaking the encryption. The lesson there is pretty basic - encrypted data will stick out about as well as data in the clear. All you're doing at that point is buying a little time. And intel agencies are both persistent and patient. You're better off investing more time in better steno.

To throw in an analogy, look at smuggling. If a truck is being searched at the border and the smugglers did a good job distracting from the small hide where the goods are, they get past the checkpoint with zero problem. It doesn't matter if the goods are in a safe in the hole or just tossed in a grocery sac, being in a safe didn't help. On the other hand, if the guards notice the missing volume, you're done. It doesn't matter how well you've concealed the opening, it doesn't matter how sturdy the latch, it doesn't matter if the goods are in a safe. You've been found out, and you're done. They will tear the truck apart until they get into the hole, and bust open the safe. The same principles are at work with steno.

Why, just why... (0)

vikingpower (768921) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857673)

do I have a very hard time believing this ? European police are notoriously incompetent at decryption. This smells of some new, illusionary monster created by some government to scare us into coughing up more liberties and money. ( I can know. I live in Austria. )

Re:Why, just why... (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858191)

The only way I can envision this actually happening the way the story is written, is if this particular method was well-known to the law enforcement and they had already worked out all the necessary tools for detecting AND breaking the hidden container.

Otherwise, it sounds like a false flag operation to me.

That's what I think, and I'm one of those people who wants to hit conspiracy nuts most of the time. That's how obvious this sounds.

Hiding it in porn is cool... (1)

bbbaldie (935205) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857689)

...however, squirreling it away in a beer can would be heresy, and the torments of seven hells in the afterlife.

According to this video.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857697)

...Al Quaeda's plans including fucking America.

Pakistan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39857717)

Seriously, why isn't everyone who goes to this country not put on a watchlist? Their only export these days seems to be terrorism.

Re:Pakistan (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857895)

>Their only export these days seems to be terrorism.

And the only thing you seem to post is moronic generalisations.

Go look at the tag on some of your shirts or something. Obviously the goals of the "terrorists" has been to take over textiles.

--
BMO

Been done (1)

DarkOx (621550) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857783)

I can't remember the name of the film, and it was not exactly modern stenography, but the plot was the Russians were sending secret messages to and from their embedded spies in the States via a series of porno videos.

Messages were being encoded as bar code segments used to make up the wall paper behind the 'actors'

Steganography is about not raising suspicion (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857785)

On May 16 last year, a 22-year-old Austrian named Maqsood Lodin was being questioned by police in Berlin. He had recently returned from Pakistan via Budapest, Hungary, and then traveled overland to Germany. His interrogators were surprised to find that hidden in his underpants were a digital storage device and memory cards.

Yeah, steganography pretty much fails when you shove the thing up in your ass. Law enforcers tend to find that suspicious.

Re:Steganography is about not raising suspicion (1)

udoschuermann (158146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858151)

I bet that for a while there he thought he's a real smarty pants!

Staganography (1)

capt_peachfuzz (1013865) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857807)

There - fixed it for you.

blonde, brunette, red-head (5, Funny)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857847)

Osama's wife: Do you always look at it encoded?

Osama: Well you have to. There's way too much information to decode the movie in realtime. You get used to it. I...I don't even see the blonde, brunette, and red-head. All I see is our nefarious plots. Hey, you uh... want a drink?

And how about spam? (1)

udoschuermann (158146) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857863)

I've been wondering for a long time whether spam is not also a means for them to disseminate instructions in some way. It doesn't appear to come from an identifiable source, and does not seem directed at any particular recipient, but the people who expect to find something there would be able to find it.

I know how this happened... (2)

WombleGoneBad (2591287) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857881)

Muslim kid: "Cor look at the bajungas on her..."
(Crazy fanatic dad walks in)
Crazy fanatic dad : "OH NO!!! you have been corrupted by the filthy western decadance!! "
Muslim kid : "No dad!! look im using their own flithy videos against them, by hiding cunning terrorist plans inside them!! honest!!"
Crazy fanactic dad : "Ahh good son. Well done carry on"
(Crazy fanactic dad leaves)
Muslim kid (whispers) : "sucker! heh heh "

Steganography is great for planting evidence (2)

Lazy Jones (8403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857899)

The "suspect" will never know ... As the "authorities" have undoubtedly discovered already.

If they have developed an interest in Porn (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857913)

My god what next Televangelism?

Interestingly... (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#39857963)

I prefer to keep my porn steganagraphically em bedded under my matress for easy access.

A summary of Al Qaeda's plans (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858019)

Two holes at once.

Bad plan. (1)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858023)

Aren't you suppose to hide something in a place they would never look? What's next, trying to smuggle their plans in a box labeled donuts?

I don't want to give Al Qaeda tips but embed that stuff on slide 5 of a powerpoint presentation named Corporate Synergistics or Business Process Best Practices.

Suspicion extreme (5, Insightful)

ehiris (214677) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858041)

Importing porn to Germany from Pakistan is about the most suspicious thing anyone can do.

Re:Suspicion extreme (1)

Big Hairy Ian (1155547) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858163)

Damn where are my mod points!!!!

Great news for HoLand Security folks (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858045)

Now they get to sit around watching Al-Qaeda videos so they can keep a eye out for the naughty bits.

Must be 4chan users... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858099)

Embedding files in images/video? Nothing new.

Modsareasleeppostsomesinks.png

Interesting... (1)

soundconjurer (1562577) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858121)

So watching porn could protect America.

Recruitment Tool!! (1)

cs668 (89484) | more than 2 years ago | (#39858197)

Hiding it in port is probably a great recruitment tool!!!

What an intense load of horseshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39858251)

So an Austrian kid goes on a SPY VACATION to PAKISTAN and then sews SECRET flash drives into his UNDERWEAR which contain PORN containing CRYPTO DOCUMENTS in them which have such critical TERROR IDEAS such as HEY LET'S SHOOT A LOT OF PEOPLE. And now those SECRET TERROR IDEAS are being REPRINTED WILLY NILLY and OPENLY BEING DISCUSSED by SENIOR WESTERN COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIALS.

What complete and total horseshit. "Al Qaeda" "communicates" by sending all their "secrets" in a package designed to draw as much attention as possible to itself? Using an inefficient form of crypto to stuff asynchronous documents into ultra-high profile data? And the Western security apparatus freely discusses these ~top secret plans~ with newspaper reporters? Bullshit.

This is an episode of NCIS, probably written by actual staffwriters, so that the yellow press can do a week of "EURO CARNAGE" headlines.

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