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Osama Bin Laden Didn't Encrypt His Files

samzenpus posted about 2 years ago | from the not-so-secret dept.

Security 333

An anonymous reader writes "If you're running a terrorist organization, it might make sense to encrypt your files. Clearly Osama Bin Laden didn't realize that — as some of the documents seized during the raid on his hideout in Pakistan have been made public for the first time. 17 electronic documents, which were found on USB sticks, memory cards and computer hard drives after US Navy Seals killed the terrorist chief in the May 2011 raid, are being released in their original Arabic alongside English translations by the Combating Terrorism Center, reports Sophos."

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333 comments

Security through obscurity (5, Insightful)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about 2 years ago | (#39883843)

Worked pretty well for the 10 or so years it took to *find* his files!

Re:Security through obscurity (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883949)

How are we supposed to know they're legitimate? Hell, how are we supposed to know that they actually killed him? No real evidence has been shown, never mind a body. A case built on "evidence" like presented so far would be laughed out of even a kangaroo court!

Re:Security through obscurity (1, Insightful)

Soporific (595477) | about 2 years ago | (#39883997)

How are we supposed to know they're legitimate? Hell, how are we supposed to know that they actually killed him? No real evidence has been shown, never mind a body. A case built on "evidence" like presented so far would be laughed out of even a kangaroo court!

Is this FreeRepublic.com now?

~S

Re:Security through obscurity (5, Funny)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#39884151)

Is this FreeRepublic.com now?

~S

Yes, but we're still arguing over whether it's Free Beer Republic or Free Speech Republic.

Re:Security through obscurity (4, Funny)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39884459)

Is this FreeRepublic.com now?

~S

Yes, but we're still arguing over whether it's Free Beer Republic or Free Speech Republic.

Free Beer Republic. Because that way you'll be so drunk you won't care and will say whatever you want regardless.

Re:Security through obscurity (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884055)

All interested groups--those who would benefit from him being alive and those who would benefit from him being dead--agree that he's dead. His family members, including his wives, agree that he's dead. The Pakistani government, angry that the US violated their sovereignty, and embarrassed that OBL was in an area known to senior members of their intelligence apparatus (IE they were caught with their pants down), agree that he's dead. The consequences of claiming he's dead when he's not would be disastrous. A non-trivial number of people (between those in the situation room, including a photographer, those on the SEAL team, those on the ship that the SEAL team flew to) would be able to blow the whistle on the conspiracy.

This isn't about legal standard of proof--if it was ever legally required the government would show the court some of the DNA, dental, photographic, and video evidence they have--it's about simple common sense.

If you believe Osama bin Laden is not dead, say so. If you believe these documents are not legitimate, say so. This kind of wishy-washy devil's advocate crap where people claim that there are "unanswered questions" but lack the intellectual honesty to actually stand behind the only possible conclusion that could be drawn by the answers they're implying is so stupid.

Re:Security through obscurity (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884181)

I have no idea if Osama bin Laden is alive, or if he's dead, or if he ever even existed in the first place. All I'm asking for is for some quality evidence to be presented, rather than merely claims, or some speculation built upon assumptions (like you've provided). Until we have some real evidence, we can't say for sure what did or did not happen.

Re:Security through obscurity (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884229)

"I have no idea ..."

You could have stopped right there.

Re:Security through obscurity (2)

Sancho (17056) | about 2 years ago | (#39884247)

I have no idea if Osama bin Laden is alive, or if he's dead, or if he ever even existed in the first place. All I'm asking for is for some quality evidence to be presented, rather than merely claims, or some speculation built upon assumptions (like you've provided). Until we have some real evidence, we can't say for sure what did or did not happen.

I'll feed. What sort of evidence would you require to prove that he existed at all?

Re:Security through obscurity (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884381)

All I'm asking for is for some quality evidence to be presented, rather than merely claims, or some speculation built upon assumptions (like you've provided). Until we have some real evidence, we can't say for sure what did or did not happen.

You've already made up your mind. Like the birthers, no evidence from anybody would be able to satisfy you. You would just find a reason not to believe it.

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884525)

You mean like the consequences of the entire American media claiming that Hugo Chavez's presidency of Venuzela had been ended one day only to be completely forgotten the next day when the coup failed. Yes we can all remember how disasterous that piece of misinformation turned out to be. We should certainly not listen to what Chavez himself has to say on that matter.
What you term as, "wishy-washy devil's advocate crap," could also be termed, "the scientific method." Also there is never an, "only possible conclusion." Perhaps in your mind, perhaps in my mind, but they may differ thus proving there is more than one surely?

Whether true or false these documents ease my mind, because they set an agenda other than trying to create WW3 if they're fake. And they speak of a threat overestimated if they're legitimate. Of those two choices I see the second as the most likely, as a bunch of numpties who just want to hurt people picking up on any old ideology to excuse their actions best explains the vast majority of terrorism to me. Also the US establishment seems dead set on trying to start WW3 so I find it unlikely they'd forge something that suggests it's not necessary to do that.

Re:Security through obscurity (2)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#39884125)

How are we supposed to know they're legitimate? Hell, how are we supposed to know that they actually killed him? No real evidence has been shown, never mind a body. A case built on "evidence" like presented so far would be laughed out of even a kangaroo court!

Yep, people spotted him smoking a joint with Elvis at Cannes.

Re:Security through obscurity (0)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | about 2 years ago | (#39884287)

Hell, how are we supposed to know that they actually killed him?

He's had plenty of time to say "Nyaa nyaa, I ain't dead yet!"

No real evidence has been shown, never mind a body. A case built on "evidence" like presented so far would be laughed out of even a kangaroo court!

By Republicans, you mean.

Re:Security through obscurity (2)

cavreader (1903280) | about 2 years ago | (#39884411)

Too many people with different viewpoints saw the photographic and other evidence to confirm he was really killed. He survived for 10 years mostly because of elements of the Pakistani security organizations and what passes for their government protection. If they were not convinced the op was successful they probably wouldn't have gotten so upset that the US didn't give them a heads up before the operation and they would have provided contradicting evidence to disprove the death claim. I'm still amazed that Obama went forward with the operation because the government couldn't really prove Bin Ladens presence and the chances of success was only around 40%. It takes a lot of guts to violate a foreign countries territory and if Bin Laden wasn't there it would have given the Pakistanis a lot of ammunition to criticize the US. Instead they ended up showing embarrassment about the whole operation.

Re:Security through obscurity (4, Funny)

zero.kalvin (1231372) | about 2 years ago | (#39884277)

So getting killed for not encrypting your files is the new punishment ? God those IT admins are angry!

The safety mechanism (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883853)

... consisted of a donkey full of explosives chained to the PC. If an intruder comes around, it just farts and unleashes the explosives and the entire machine (and animal) blow up in little pieces.

Re:The safety mechanism (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883953)

Camel, stupid. This is Pakistan, not Mexico.

-- Ethanol-fueled

Also:

"17 electronic documents...are being released...alongside English translations by the Combating Terrorism Center..."

Original Arabic:

Shopping list: Fattoush, Sharwama, halal lamb meat, goat milk

After "Translation:"

Death to ALL infidels! BEHEAD Americans! Bomb PLANES with HAND sanitizer!

really? (5, Insightful)

SailorOrion (2628783) | about 2 years ago | (#39883865)

Normally, you would encrypt data for transmission via an unsecure network (read: internet) or to protect it from unauthorized physical access. It's not like OBL's biggest worries were the contents of his USB sticks should hostile individuals be present in his home. History certainly supports that theory ...

Re:really? (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39884103)

What if one of his leutenants had betrayed him? There are a lot of reasons to encrypt sensitive documents even when they are not being sent over a network.

Re:really? (2)

Blindman (36862) | about 2 years ago | (#39884217)

True, but it would have to be a lieutenant that didn't otherwise have access to the information.

Re:really? (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about 2 years ago | (#39884503)

Which I am guessing would be the case, as a matter of operational security. If a lieutenant in charge of, say, activities in North Africa decides to defect, it would be bad if he knew about plans for Asia or Europe.

I am just guessing, of course; maybe they are less organized than I am giving them credit for. Failing to encrypt is certainly an indication of that...

Re:really? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884235)

What if one of his leutenants had betrayed him?

You really think that betrayal would involve a nonviolent act like swiping a thumbdrive?

Re:really? (2)

Isaac Remuant (1891806) | about 2 years ago | (#39884301)

Your comment is irrelevant. An informant/spy/traitor might be willing to risk stealing a small thumb-drive but would probably not risk a direct or violent route.

Re:really? (2)

istartedi (132515) | about 2 years ago | (#39884391)

Yep. I kept passwords on stickies under my monitor. "That's not secure". Reply: "If somebody in the building is looking under my monitor, finding the PW and figuring out what UID and service it belongs to, we've got bigger problems".

How do we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883873)

Surely the Pentagon knows how to crack encryption, no?

Re:How do we know? (2)

NemoinSpace (1118137) | about 2 years ago | (#39883937)

No kidding. Like that would have slowed the NSA down for about 42 billion processor cycles.
He probably figured it was not worth being tortured for his password.

Re:How do we know? (3, Insightful)

realityimpaired (1668397) | about 2 years ago | (#39884011)

^^ this.

He was dead anyway, regardless of how well protected his encrypted content was. Also, his network was (and is) set up in such a way that even a year after Bin Laden was captured/killed, we *still* haven't tracked down his lieutenants, I don't think he really had anything to worry about with the security of his data.

Re:How do we know? (2)

Galestar (1473827) | about 2 years ago | (#39883951)

Surely the Pentagon knows how to crack encryption, no?

Please see http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/06/26/1825204/fbi-failed-to-break-encryption-of-hard-drives [slashdot.org]

the FBI has failed to decrypt files of a Brazilian banker accused of financial crimes...two encryption programs, one Truecrypt and the other unnamed

Surely they could use some of their "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" to elicit the passwords from someone. (see http://xkcd.com/538/ [xkcd.com] )

Re:How do we know? (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39884025)

FBI != NSA.

Re:How do we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884077)

FBI != NSA.

But just as shit so the equivalency is fine.

Re:How do we know? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884415)

No, One is a hell of a lot more scarier than the other.
Do you even know what the NSA does?

Physical Security! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883897)

If the data is physically secure, and not on a network, you don't really need encryption.

Re:Physical Security! (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#39883965)

But it doesn't hurt.

Re:Physical Security! (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39884133)

Nor does it help. Especially in this case.

The NSA was going to read his files if it took a year, and he was smart enough to know he had no means of encryption at his disposal that the NSA couldn't crack.

The content of the documents released so far suggest there was very little to be gained by encrypting them. No deep secret plans, no address books, no escape routes or bank account numbers.

I'm sure there may well be other documents that are not yet released.

Re:Physical Security! (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#39884257)

I think it would be safe to assume he had more sensitive information around. While the NSA might be able to crack the encryption, many times, sensitive information has a half-life. If the files did hold secret plans, it doesn't help the NSA if by the time they decrypted them, the plans have already been executed.

Re:Physical Security! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884319)

Whahuh? Any modern, simple symmetric cipher could have protected his data from anyone but god, for the foreseeable future of the Universe. You can speculate all you want about NSA having some deep secret method of attacking asymmetric ciphers, but nestable modern symmetric ones with huge keys? Get real. And OBL would probably have loved knowing that the NSA was going to spend years accomplishing absolutely nothing with them. Heck, he probably should have encrypted a bunch of random data files alongside his real ones, for a true hoot.

cloud storage (1)

Tiffsterr (779130) | about 2 years ago | (#39883899)

Bin Laden's intel might never have been found if he had been a little more modern and saved his notes in the cloud under an alias

And Still (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883915)

People believe his is dead. I mean come on, 10 years of war and they magically kill him and "securely" dispose of the body in a place nobody will ever find it. Basically dispose of the only prove that osama is actually dead and not a 9/11 conspiracy brought to you by the lovely government of the US. Strange that in ever other war, they actually did not eliminate the evidence, the brought the enemy to something called justice. One would think he would be brought to the US for a trial or something.

For all I know he is alive, still making deals with the Bush family (if not also Obama) and the oil deals that he and the bush family did are still head on.

US if you want to lie at least try a little bit harder because between wikileaks, the "promises" that obama made and never did, the lack of care for the US citizens in every single way and the focus on power, power, power I think the jig is up.

Re:And Still (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884069)

Thankfully no one, anywhere, gives a shit about what you think.

Re:And Still (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884203)

Thankfully, no one cares that you're a sheep that believes everything spoon-fed to him by his government. Ironically, most of the readership on this site does not trust the US government. But you believe anything told to you by them regarding this entire incident.

Re:And Still (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884099)

While I think some skepticism is healthy, the jig isn't up until he is seen alive.

Re:And Still (2)

RMingin (985478) | about 2 years ago | (#39884117)

If Osama was alive, he would have released a video as soon as possible after we declared him authoritatively dead. "Ha ha, still alive and well, pig-eating traitor American fascists! LOLWUT!"

Osama Bin Laden is profoundly dead. May he rest in many pieces.

Re:And Still (2, Interesting)

icebraining (1313345) | about 2 years ago | (#39884311)

Personally I think he has been dead for years now. It makes more sense than the alternatives, in my opinion.

Not that I really care or have a strong opinion.

It's not like it would have help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883943)

The NSA probably would have cracked it in an instant with all their crypto knowledge and built in back doors in all the major software suits.

A self destruct button with thermite/C4 is the only viable solution.

You're kidding right? (-1, Troll)

Paracelcus (151056) | about 2 years ago | (#39884009)

Unless of course you really think that any of this happened, in which you are hopelessly retarded!
The only thing that might be true is that he's dead, probably in the Tora Bora attack years ago.

Re:You're kidding right? (4, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39884045)

Unless of course you really think that any of this happened, in which you are hopelessly retarded! The only thing that might be true is that he's dead, probably in the Tora Bora attack years ago.

If bin Laden died in the Tora Bora years ago, Bush would have played that card when he was losing a bunch of domestic and international credibility after Iraq. That would have taken a lot of heat off of him and make it much easier for him to have gotten things done. Although, judging by your comment you probably also think bin Laden was a CIA agent since the 80s too.

Re:You're kidding right? (3, Insightful)

Black Parrot (19622) | about 2 years ago | (#39884093)

The only thing that might be true is that he's dead, probably in the Tora Bora attack years ago.

Right. Because George & Dick wouldn't have trumpeted it to the heavens if the got him.

There's a hopeless retard here for sure... (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 2 years ago | (#39884427)

Unless of course you really think that any of this happened, in which you are hopelessly retarded!

I do believe the only hopeless retards here are the ones who don't believe in the simplest possible explanation most likely being true, and instead believe crafting an imaginary entity and then killing the imaginary entity is a task our hopelessly inept government could manage without a thousand thousand leaks...

Yes, truly your kind is retarded beyond hope of recovery and it saddens me that so many fall to your fell logic daily.

Re:It's not like it would have help (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#39884019)

I somehow doubt the NSA has back doors into the open source solutions out there. That said, they might have some secret piece of technology that can break all current encryption. Perhaps quantum computers are further along than the public knows.

Re:It's not like it would have help (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39884145)

More likely they can just dedicate hundreds of hours worth of computing to brute-forcing a single piece of intelligence, especially for something as high profile as bin Laden. They have a lot of computing resources they can devote to this sort of thing. It doesn't really have to be that much more advanced than what we have (although undoubtedly they are so far on the cutting edge of capability that they are probably in danger of falling off)

Re:It's not like it would have help (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 2 years ago | (#39884259)

Did you bother to learn the first thing about crypto before posting this? Obviously not.

Re:It's not like it would have help (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#39884285)

(although undoubtedly they are so far on the cutting edge of capability that they are probably in danger of falling off)

That made me laugh. Death by tech overdose. :)

Re:It's not like it would have help (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884453)

Setec astronomy

Re:It's not like it would have help (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884249)

I somehow doubt the NSA has back doors into the open source solutions out there. That said, they might have some secret piece of technology that can break all current encryption. Perhaps quantum computers are further along than the public knows.

Downmod this fucking idiot. A claim like that is about as plausible as saying that Bin Laden is alive, and that the US government was behind the attacks.

Re:It's not like it would have help (1)

Githaron (2462596) | about 2 years ago | (#39884331)

It is possible. Unlikely that they are that far are ahead of everyone else, but possible. The government usually gets the cool toys before everyone else. Hell, some of the first programmable computers were created using government resources.

Obligatory XKCD (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883963)

http://xkcd.com/538/

Why bother with the inconvenience? (5, Insightful)

dccase (56453) | about 2 years ago | (#39883971)

He correctly understood that they wouldn't be used against him as evidence in a court of law.

Re:Why bother with the inconvenience? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884053)

I agree. It's not like he was trying to protect some trade secrets, copyrighted songs/movies or any other IP from being leaked to the internet. Encryption is for fearful paranoids, when you don't care... well you don't care.

Perhaps to Protect Others and Alliances? (2)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#39884081)

He correctly understood that they wouldn't be used against him as evidence in a court of law.

Uh, perhaps the idea would be to use a strong encryption so that if someone did find them, they wouldn't give away all the people you are collaborating with? Sure, it would be broken 20 years down the road but ... surely even in death you would want to protect your cause and your allies? Seems like pretty common sense to me ... just another sign that he didn't really care about those around him or he didn't understand technology.

The less information you give your enemy the better. Even minute things that seem unimportant can be used against you.

Wind-up Usama Bin Laden doll says real life phrases like "Encryption is hard, let's go jihading!"

Avoiding The Man 101 (2, Insightful)

girlintraining (1395911) | about 2 years ago | (#39883973)

Lesson 1, Page 1, in covert operations:

Anonymity deflects more bullets than body armor.

Encryption prevents viewing the data only for the amount of time it takes to torture the passphrase out of you. Since you need the key to view your encrypted data, it's almost assured that the key will be near the data in some form, minimally protected. Encryption therefore provides little (if any) security in that scenario. In fact, it could cause more harm than good; It may lull you into a sense of false security.

Re:Avoiding The Man 101 (1)

icebike (68054) | about 2 years ago | (#39884197)

Lesson 1, page 2.

That bit I wrote on page 1 has proven false. Some how, the NSA clicked a mouse, the lights dimmed, and a computer spit out my passphrase.

I go now. Bye.

Re:Avoiding The Man 101 (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 years ago | (#39884413)

Consider that he used people to move data a lot. PGP and the like would make a lot of sense for his underlings to be able to know it came from him and insure the intermediaries could not decode it.

Re:Avoiding The Man 101 (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 2 years ago | (#39884451)

There are other ways that encryption can help. Let's say that /bin/laden was warned just before the raid and had to flee for his miserable life. Wouldn't it be better for him if any thumb drives, computers or other media were encrypted? Even if the NSA were able to break whatever cypher he used it would still take them time and the delay might just be long enough for damage control. Thats why field-grade cyphers aren't as tough to crack as higher level ones: they only need to delay decryption long enough for the data to become obsolete.

I must be a Brit (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39883979)

I really want that to be CombaTTing.

CombaTing seems like you'd pronounce it the same way you'd pronounce, oh, say masturbating or hating or skating.

But I looked it up and one T is American English and two Ts is British English. Go figure.

Re:I must be a Brit (1)

RMingin (985478) | about 2 years ago | (#39884161)

Odd. I'm American and always spelt it 'combatting'.

Neither seems 100% when I think about it, though. The word is "combat ing", not 'combat ting", but combating looks like "com ba ting" as you noted.

Risk Assessment (1)

American AC in Paris (230456) | about 2 years ago | (#39883999)

He may well have operated on the assumption that if ever his enemies laid hands on his computer files, odds are that lack of encryption would be very, very low on his list of Things I Need To Worry About Right Now; thus, it would make little sense to spend his limited resources on this line of defense.

Re:Risk Assessment (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884515)

In addition to this he took elaborate measure in the sneakernet he set up using trusted couriers to pass the information along. This was more secure seeing as the US never once intercepted a communication from OSB until after it had aired on Al jazeera

No real need for him to encrpyt (5, Interesting)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39884015)

Why would he need to encrypt files he was storing with him? He was living covertly, so did not have to worry about surveillance. And these documents were essentially for internal (read: his own and his few insiders) use. Any distribution of those documents from his location was handled by courier, and AQ uses encryption and steganography when distributing their documents as recent news has shown, logically the same measures were probably undertaken whenever these documents left the compound. As high a profile target as he is, he really didn't have to worry about anyone snooping on him, it would be much more profitable to capture or kill him if his location were known than it would be to sit on him and investigate traffic. And odds are the NSA and other intelligence agencies would brute force and eventually crack any encryption regardless. At best, all the encryption would do is buy time for AQ to bug out/scrap plans/accelerate operations. In all likelihood they probably had a contingency plan for bin Laden's eventual capture/death(whether natural or by bullet/missile) which involved changes in methods, distribution networks, or locations, causing any intelligence gained to lead to mostly ghosts and cold trails.

Think of this another way: do you encrypt your USB drives if you are just transferring your files from one computer to another in your house? Even if the files are sensitive, it's a waste of time, because the drive isn't intended to be removed from your house.

Re:No real need for him to encrpyt (1)

interval1066 (668936) | about 2 years ago | (#39884239)

...it's a waste of time, because the drive isn't intended to be removed from your house.

Then real life creeps in, and unenteded consiquences spoil your day, some one pops a tire on your getaway ride, some trusted flunky slips a USB stick in his pocket...

Re:No real need for him to encrpyt (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884349)

Think of this another way: do you encrypt your USB drives if you are just transferring your files from one computer to another in your house?

YES! A thousand times yes. Never write unencrypted data to a portable medium/device, and preferably not to desktops either. Your reasoning is exactly the kind of human flaw in security systems that experts always mention. Unencrypted data can never escape if it's never stored unencrypted.

Re:No real need for him to encrpyt (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39884531)

And odds are the NSA and other intelligence agencies would brute force and eventually crack any encryption regardless. At best, all the encryption would do is buy time for AQ to bug out/scrap plans/accelerate operations.

There are two kinds of encryption, one will keep your kid sister out of your files unless she does a little research on the internet and spends a few hours running a breaker program.

The other kind of encryption, "hard encryption" will keep present technology, on average, busy until well after the heat death of the universe before getting lucky enough to brute force guess the key. If this encryption is used well and the keys safeguarded effectively, it is unbreakable until a breakthrough in methods or technology comes about - quantum computing holds the promise to break some forms of strong encryption, if it ever matures.

Encryption Is False Security (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884089)

...especially when the side-channel attack is to reconstruct radio waves emanating from the neural networks of the brain.

Real question - What OS did he run? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884109)

Was it a pirated version of Windows? Did he send in his registration card? Or did he run linux?

Encryption... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884111)

is just another American Evil. And lets keep it that way!

Missing the point entirely (1)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#39884141)

Of course Osama bin Laden doesn't care -- he's dead. But I can only imagine all the intel regarding locations, plans and correspondence has helped the US in their efforts against the surviving leaders of al-Qaeda.

So yes, not encrypting the files and having those files now in the hands of their enemy does make a difference.

Re:Missing the point entirely (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 2 years ago | (#39884547)

Of course Osama bin Laden doesn't care -- he's dead.

What I think this shows is that OBL didn't care what happened to his cause after his inevitable (from old age, if nothing else) death.

We aren't talking rocket scientists here (3, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | about 2 years ago | (#39884177)

The "terrorist" are middle east versions of neo-nazi rednecks. Most of them aren't entirely sure why they hate us but they do. Fighting us gives purpose to their otherwise sad existence. The Saudi terrorist, the ones that actually blew up the towers, blame us for their own people robbing them blind of oil money. Why didn't Bin laden encrypt his files? Why wasn't he in hiding? He had people in the Pakistani government protecting him and apparently the rest of the Al Qaeda terrorist network considered him put out to pasture. He was the figure head of a pathetic group of thugs. I just saw a report that it finally dawned on these morons that it's easier to start fires than to bring down planes. Even then they have to design complex bombs rather than matches and candles. They over think problems and miss the obvious. People think genius is coming up with complex solutions, it's coming up with simple solutions to complex problems. These guys aren't geniuses.

Re:We aren't talking rocket scientists here (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | about 2 years ago | (#39884293)

Except in this type of conflict, the stupid die quick, the smart ones keep on living and fighting. A lot of these guys have been doing this since the 80s. They've built a global network that has avoided dismantling despite the billions of dollars and countless man-hours that have gone into finding and destroying it. And any time the intelligence services score a victory and kill someone or intercept an attack/courier, or capture a big player, those that are left learn even more. It's a Darwinian system that insures that those that reach high leadership positions are at least as smart and dedicated as the people trying to find them, if not more so. The grunts, the average suicide bomber or gunman are the only ones likely to be stupid, but more often they are simply misguided, misled, and used.

Two thougths: (4, Insightful)

Guppy06 (410832) | about 2 years ago | (#39884185)

  1. Considering that he kept that information in close physical proximity, he may simply have assumed that, if the information were compromised, he wouldn't be alive to care.
  2. The US government says the files weren't encrypted. It's also possible they were encrypted, but the US doesn't want al Qaeda cells and/or the general public to know how long it took to crack.

Re:Two thougths: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884545)

well since they are all written by the US propaganda think tanks, it wouldn't be that hard to unencrypt them. remember, there was never such a person as osama bin laden, beyond the cia- created boogeyman, manufactured to con all the stupids into supporting endless war.

really? (1)

bdrees (1015815) | about 2 years ago | (#39884187)

FTA "17 of the 6,000 documents have now been publicly released."
17 un encrypted documents translates into "It appears that Osama bin Laden didn’t encrypt any of his computer files"
Must be that Arabic Math, I never did learn with an abacus...

Re:really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884353)

Would you publicize thousands of documents, the contents of which might jeopardize your country, if you didn't first go over them with a fine-toothed comb?
Neither would the US government.

At least winzip and use a password (1)

approachingZero (1365381) | about 2 years ago | (#39884209)

When OBL heard the automatic weapon fire on the first floor you can bet he instantly realized that living within RPG distance of the Pakistan equivalent of West Point was no real substitute for adequate file security. There is a moral here. I'm not sure I want to know what is.

How do they know? (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | about 2 years ago | (#39884213)

I thought one of the purposes of encrypting files is to hide them - make them look like unused space on a drive. How could anyone tell that there are no encrypted files?

Why should he encrypt? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 years ago | (#39884269)

These items were located in his "safe" hiding place. Defended by the most loyal of the loyal followers he had. One thing was nearly certain: If anyone ever got into this place, he would get in there after a lengthy and bloody fight. His chances to survive that fight, if it was lost, were close to zero, and even if he survived, his chances to get out as a free man were zero. And it's not only likely that the 'trial' he would be put into in such a case ends in a death sentence.

So why bother encrypting? If anyone ever gets his hands on those sticks, Ozzi certainly had worse worries than whether his latest hate speech could be read without breaking a tough cipher first.

osama not dead (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884407)

bin laden isnt dead and you are all sheep for believing the establishments propoganda , LOL he worked for the CIA , its a known fact .. #falseflag

Slashdot is surprisingly ignorant about crypto (3, Insightful)

i286NiNJA (2558547) | about 2 years ago | (#39884435)

The number of people who think AES can magically be cracked because the NSA is involved is staggering, if anyone can crack it it's probably the NSA, but they probably can't crack it. Slashdot your opsec is horrid, you encrypt secrets because they're secrets not because if the enemy has them you're dead anyhow, if anything it means that your secrets are more secure since they can't be beaten out of you. Does this sound like a policy we'd use with our own military secrets? More likely he's not very tech savvy and didn't understand why it would help or like many of the posters here he seemed to believe that the NSA has magical powers so crypto was futile. The man is prone to faulty thinking demonstrated by his belief that the middle east would finally be free from our meddling if he could just manage to kill another 5000 people. The fact that many of you are developers and administrators and don't seem to know the first thing about opsec or crypto is genuinely troubling, no wonder .cn walks through our infrastructure like they own it.

So they killed him? (3, Insightful)

InspectorGadget1964 (2439148) | about 2 years ago | (#39884439)

The US government is not known for it's honesty. Whatever they say (And expirience proves me correct) can be assumed to be a lie. Like the weapons of mass destruction that someone else was higing in his palaces and the mobile laboratories that the same dictator used to create biological and chemical weapons. People, is our memory so bad that we forget easily we are being told nothing but lies by politicians?

legally licensed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884449)

I wonder if his OS and apparently were properly licensed and if he had antivirus installed.

Re:legally licensed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39884491)

That should be apps not apparently. Autocorrect like a boss.

Don't forget steganography (4, Funny)

Chuck Chunder (21021) | about 2 years ago | (#39884473)

I bet that "evil plans" sub directory is really a front and there's some serious man on man action pictures hidden inside those files.
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