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Feds Plan 'Fog of Disinformation' To Track Information Leaks

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the surely-this-is-a-very-old-technique dept.

Government 263

skipkent tips a story at Wired's Danger Room, according to which "Pentagon-funded researchers have come up with a new plan for busting leakers: Spot them by how they search, and then entice the secret-spillers with decoy documents that will give them away. Computer scientists call it it 'Fog Computing' — a play on today's cloud computing craze. And in a recent paper for Darpa, the Pentagon's premiere research arm, researchers say they've built 'a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this "disinformation technology."'"

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Blame Saint Andreas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556455)

Blame Saint Andreas -- it's all his fault.

aka... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556461)

Counterintelligence. Same game, new enemy. It worries me when the enemies start to become ourselves. It may be foreshadowing what's to come.

Re:aka... (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556881)

Counterintelligence. Same game, new enemy. It worries me when the enemies start to become ourselves. It may be foreshadowing what's to come.

True, and I first thought this would have been more effective if they hadn't announced it. I guess given that they know there is a leak, the ones you don't want to know would know anyway.

Re:aka... (3, Insightful)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556917)

I figure it would send a message to the leakers. That is, be careful what you leak, we may just find you.

Re:aka... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557053)

Meh. Just be sure to grab someone elses copy and leak that. They;ll trace it back to the other person, not you.

Re:aka... (5, Interesting)

demachina (71715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557079)

I'm curious how they are going to flood their own people with a "fog of disinformation" and not cause chaos. The information has to be believable but false, and once its out there how do they stop their own people from acting on it as though it is accurate?

Maybe if they have someone who is already a suspect and target it only at them they can contain the self inflicted damage, but if they start to dessimate information on any scale the self inflicted damage they could outweigh the damage the leakers do.

If someone is already a suspect I doubt they really need this tactic to nail them.

Once it becomes a wide spread suspicion that there is intentional disinformation in the system, wouldn't everyone stop trusting all the information.

Of course after the "missile gap, WMD's in Iraq and reading some of the stuff that came out of the State department and DOD through Wikileaks the quality of their information is already pretty shitty. Maybe this is just a way to thrown in the towel on intelligence and information gathering and admit its all garbage so they should just make it all up, because its cheaper.

A possible ulterior motive is they actually want to flood leakers with disinformation, and in turn flood news channels with misinformation, so they can mislead and bombard the public with propaganda but have plausible deniability that thats what they are doing.

Re:aka... (1)

siddesu (698447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557109)

AKA entrapment. It is "counterintelligence" when you do it to the bad guys, who live abroad and hate you for your freedomz, not to the good guys who point out the bad things your government does. BTW, "domestic counterintelligence" was one of KGB's most important departments. They did exactly the same thing -- go after the people at home who were dissatisfied with the politicians.

Eh? What is new? (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556463)

I though disinformation is SOP with Governments... Or maybe it is just a British govt trait.

Re:Eh? What is new? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556487)

What's new is that they can now point to any leak and say - "Oh that? It's just disinformation we planted"

Re:Eh? What is new? (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556729)

the key word here is "believable" disinformation - where they can point to it and say "Oh, that? That's our information, and he had no authority to access it never mind distribute it". If it's a government document, then anyone found in possession of it may find themselves in the same boat as Assange, that being indicted for "aiding the enemy". That it is disinformation is a bonus; it does the Government no real harm since it refers to fictions, and as it's designed to be "believable" there's no way for anyone outside the information loop to be able to tell the difference between it and the real information.

Re:Eh? What is new? (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557041)

What's new is that the US Government hasn't officially used disinformation against its own public before as that's "illegal", they've only unofficially done so.

Come to my office (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556465)

Management here is extremely skilled in spreading disinformation.

Better yet. (2)

AftanGustur (7715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556467)

All they really need is to alter a few words in sentences depending on who is accessing the document.

Re:Better yet. (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556837)

All they really need is to alter a few words in sentences depending on who is accessing the document.

I wonder which thread this article came from and who is going to be nailed to the barn door for it.

I seriously wonder at the sense of telling people you are going to do something - this just forewarns them, if you are going to leak, put the words together by your own interpretation. But if the whole concept of the potential leak is bollox then even scrambling a few words won't be enough to hide where the leak comes from.

and according to my sources, NASA have developed a new balloon using nanotubes capable of entering Low Earth Orbit! Zowie!!!

Re:Better yet. (3, Insightful)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556875)

All they really need is to alter a few words in sentences depending on who is accessing the document.

What you're talking about is a simple form of watermarking. What they're talking about, since they're calling it "disinformation", is much more than that.

Now only the 4-star generals will know which spy plane blueprints are real, and which diplomatic cables are true, so no information will be actionable until it first gets reviewed and validated by a 4-star general first.

Re:Better yet. (4, Insightful)

capnchicken (664317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557121)

That sounds scalable. /sarcasm

The big thing all these leaks really proves is that there are too many secrets and the US govt's clearance and need to know mechanisms are wholly broken. Some info really does need to be secret, but instead of vetting everything its just way easier to sweep it all under the its a secret rug and call it a day.

Just another pentagon project to treat the symptoms and totally disregard the main cause.

Should rename to derpa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556471)

Because that doesn't sound like a plausible plan.

Re:Should rename to derpa (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556491)

You mean other than the fact that this idea has been used for decades, if not longer?

Yeah, not plausible.

Re:Should rename to derpa (1)

SlippyToad (240532) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556675)

As I recall, super-sensitive movie scripts are kept secret in this same way, by giving each party a slightly different version.

Encyclopedias are also kept from wholesale copying by the inclusion of bogus entries.

This is an old technique. Fuck, I've seen movie plots based on this idea, plots where GOVERNMENT INTELLIGENCE was directly part of the story.

I am stunned that they AREN'T doing this. It is a VERY SIMPLE technique to figure out who is blabbing.

Re:Should rename to derpa (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556735)

plots where GOVERNMENT INTELLIGENCE was directly part of the story

Clearly those were works of fiction.

Re:Should rename to derpa (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556755)

Same with maps. I recall a former friend of mine buying a book that talked about the practice.

Re:Should rename to derpa (1)

CptNerd (455084) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556933)

I ran into that one time, almost literally. I was going to a party for a co-worker who happened to live on a small cul-de-sac off a small side road. I had never been there, and I had one of the big map books for Northern Virginia, so I found where the side road was supposed to be. Except when I got to the vicinity, the turn-off didn't exist to get to the side road.

I wandered around for about half an hour, and finally gave up. This was in the days before GPS and before cell phones, so I couldn't even call for directions. Then I read later that the map company that printed the books was well-known for making "mistakes" like that for copyright purposes. Very irritating.

I just wonder if any of the GPS companies are doctoring their data the same way...

Re:Should rename to derpa (2)

GT66 (2574287) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556999)

"I am stunned that they AREN'T doing this. It is a VERY SIMPLE technique to figure out who is blabbing." It is a simple technique. And when have you seen a government even successfully do that much? One movie script or an occasional encyclopedia set is one thing. Given the sheer volume of information generated by our increasingly paranoid and secretive government AND the need to share this information across many agencies, let me predict that total chaos will be arriving shortly. Whatever feeble productivity our government has been able to produce by sheer force of $$$ will now be completely negated as even the money will not be able to overcome the fact hat no one will know who knows what and what is true. What is most horrifying is that our elected clods are more than happy to wage wars fully knowing they are operating on false information: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niger_uranium_forgeries [wikipedia.org] We already have analysis paralysis and a government that passes laws that they haven't even read. Pelosi famously told us we need to pass the healthcare law just so we could figure out what's in it. *This* is without a mis-information campaign. Just imagine what's next.

Government Already Operates in a Fog (5, Insightful)

Gunfighter (1944) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556481)

With the discombobulated nature of the believable information and misinformation, who will be tracking the differences to make sure an intelligence report doesn't result in a military course of action against a non-existent foe (or something similar)?

Translation: What could possibly go wrong?

Re:Government Already Operates in a Fog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556625)

Iraq!

Death by Discombobulation.

Re:Government Already Operates in a Fog (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556635)

This is a major mistake waiting to happen.
Grab your seats, get your popcorn.

Re:Government Already Operates in a Fog (3, Insightful)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556669)

Iraq?

Re:Government Already Operates in a Fog (4, Funny)

girlintraining (1395911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556803)

Translation: What could possibly go wrong?

So... FOX News was the prototype for this?

Re:Government Already Operates in a Fog (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557115)

Translation: What could possibly go wrong?

So... FOX News was the prototype for this?

Just admit it. You're obese.

Re:Government Already Operates in a Fog (1)

gtbritishskull (1435843) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556937)

That was my first thought. If the person does not need the information, they should not have access to it. If they do need the information, you probably want to make sure it is accurate.

Translation: What could possibly go wrong?

Indeed.

disinformation all the time (4, Insightful)

harvey the nerd (582806) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556493)

The bottom line is that you can't believe *anything* any government official says.

Re:disinformation all the time (1)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556765)

Mod parent up. Harvey, you are more right than you know. Check EVERYTHING you are told by ANYONE with ties to the Government. I mean EVERYTHING. Call them on it if you find out they're lying to you, and do it PUBLICLY.

An interesting study in modern ethics (4, Insightful)

TorrentFox (1046862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556507)

Is it still right to punish those who in good faith believe there is a pressing need to leak certain information? Entrapment aside, this really will have the most damaging chilling effect yet known in the information age. First no whistleblower protection for gov. employees, and now an active campaign to make sure fucked people stay fucked. Proud to be an American!

Re:An interesting study in modern ethics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556611)

Is it still right to punish those who in good faith believe there is a pressing need to leak certain information?

Of course it's not right. Neither is prosecuting 17-year-olds who take pictures of themselves, or torturing prisoners. When has that ever stopped them?

Re:An interesting study in modern ethics (4, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556715)

Yes, it is right - for those who sign a contract saying that they will go to jail if they reveal a given secret, it is right for them to go to jail if they then reveal that secret. It really is that simple.

This isn't about "whistleblowers", who see non-secret but embarassing imformation about their employers and reveal that in a damaging way. This is about state secrets. And history shows: if your government can't keep any secrets, it will be replaced by one that can (often quite violently replaced). Just as you may regret the need for national defense, you'll end up with a government that has some, one way or another.

We're a democracy. We have oversight of state secrets by our elected leaders, and good ones will legally "out" secrets they don't think should be secret (this happened quite recently, with a congressman reading into the congressional record a court-sealed document related to Fast and Furious). Yes, the system has flaws, all systems do, but it's certainly a workable one.

Re:An interesting study in modern ethics (2)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556883)

It is about whistleblowers when every bit of information is marked classified just in case it might turn out to be embarrassing later.

Re:An interesting study in modern ethics (4, Insightful)

dark12222000 (1076451) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557047)

Funny enough you mention that they are bound by Contract.

You see, in all of these contracts (and usually verbatim in government contracts), the duty of the secret keeper is forfeit if the information contained is either illegal, or (in America) goes against "the will" of the people.

In another words, if you bind me via contract to not disclose that you're going to nuke New York, and I tell someone, then I have *not* violated my contract (either the contract is invalid in the first place as it violates established law, or my duty to the law/my fellow citizens surpasses my contracted duty).

In these cases, most of these people ARE whistleblowers. The information they release has been released because the whistleblower feels it either violates established law or that it goes against the will of the people.

Re:An interesting study in modern ethics (4, Interesting)

colinnwn (677715) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557069)

And history shows: if your government can't keep any secrets, it will be replaced by one that can (often quite violently replaced).

Does history show this? I'm generally curious. My guess is that most governments can't keep secrets well, and even the ones that are particularly bad and have also failed, have other more significant causes of the failure.

Re:An interesting study in modern ethics (1)

GT66 (2574287) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557251)

"Yes, it is right - for those who sign a contract saying that they will go to jail if they reveal a given secret, it is right for them to go to jail if they then reveal that secret." IANAL. However, it is my experience that while *anything* can be put in a contract, the legality of the contract has little bearing on the legality of what is "in" the contract. People assume that because a contract is a recognized legal agreement that then anything in that contract is then "legal." This is why things like this go to court. If information leaked is covered under a whistle blower or some other law then the fact that there is this this statement in the contract is tough titty. It ain't legal. The rest of the contract if found to contain valid legal clauses would then be upheld.

Or, And This is Just a Thought... (4, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556517)

Stop doing shit you don't want the People to know about.

Cue the state-owned lapdogs prattling on about the dangers of military secrets becoming public knowledge, in spite of the fact that all the fallout from leaked documents thus far has been political, and in no way put any of our troops at risk.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (1, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556749)

"and in no way put any of our troops at risk."

false.
Of course you seem to think there is no association of the troops from politics. When documents where released that showed the US's role in maintaining peace in the mid-east, it put several countries into a corner and forced their hand.; which led to an extending campaign in which soldiers died.

Some documents should remain hidden.
Should we publish the data on when we move missiles? which truck is the decoy?

Does this mean all documents should be classified? no.
Only that there are real needs for classification.
What needs to be classified is a matter of policy and debate.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556819)

When documents where released that showed the US's role in maintaining peace in the mid-east, it put several countries into a corner and forced their hand.; which led to an extending campaign in which soldiers died.

[citation needed]

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (1)

The Mister Purple (2525152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556895)

What needs to be classified is a matter of policy and debate.

Currently, that debate is being won by the "classify everything" side, since it makes it easy to counter FOIA requests and defense subpoenas.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (2)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557137)

"and in no way put any of our troops at risk."

false. Of course you seem to think there is no association of the troops from politics. When documents where released that showed the US's role in maintaining peace in the mid-east, it put several countries into a corner and forced their hand.; which led to an extending campaign in which soldiers died.

Bull.

Shit.

If not, produce some examples. Otherwise, STFU.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (1)

SirGarlon (845873) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556967)

Keeping something confidential does not imply wrongdoing. There are many scenarios where a perfectly legitimate government activity needs to be kept confidential.

Private citizens also need privacy. Say for example I want to build a new addition onto my house and I solicit bids from three local building contractors. I may justifiably not want to tell each of those contractors who else is being considered for the job, to make it harder for them to conspire in a price-fixing scheme. Say for example my doctor finds a benign tumor during a physical exam. I might not want my boss to know for fear of employment discrimination.

Now, apply an ounce of imagination and think about the complex plans a government might need to make, where premature public disclosure would screw things up. Take into consideration the fact that every time Alan Greenspan (former chairman of the Federal Reserve) opens his mouth, the financial markets (over)-react.

Yes, a lot of misconduct gets swept under the rug especially in the name of "national security." But to presume that the state has no legitimate reason for secrecy in anything seems quite shallow.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (1)

GT66 (2574287) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557143)

Except that the current modus operandi is to classify and secret-ize EVERYTHING which very much does imply wrong doing. No one denies that some things the state does should be kept secret. However, a government by the people for the people are on a very short leash WRT keeping secrets which as it should be. You can't have a public institution that cannot be checked by the public. See virtually every government that has attempted this to see how that story ends. What people are crying foul over is the government's penchant for stretching the definition of state secret until how many times the janitor changes out the toilet paper rolls in the Capitol restrooms becomes a matter of national security. It has gone too far. The government is RAPIDLY losing the trust as support of the people that HIRED them and AUTHORIZED them to the job of governing OUR nation. Trust me, no good can come from this path the government insists on following.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557237)

Keeping something confidential does not imply wrongdoing. There are many scenarios where a perfectly legitimate government activity needs to be kept confidential.

Never said there weren't; I merely pointed out that up to now, nothing that has been leaked has proven to put our forces at a disadvantage, so the claims that information leaks are somehow dangerous to troops on the ground are nothing more than bullshit propaganda.

Private citizens also need privacy. Say for example I want to build a new addition onto my house and I solicit bids from three local building contractors. I may justifiably not want to tell each of those contractors who else is being considered for the job, to make it harder for them to conspire in a price-fixing scheme. Say for example my doctor finds a benign tumor during a physical exam. I might not want my boss to know for fear of employment discrimination.

You're ignoring a major difference in scenarios: You, as a private citizen, are not funded with tax dollars; you are not a representative of the American people as a whole; we have (or at least, had) very strong personal privacy laws in this country to protect private citizens. Also, since you're paying for the aforementioned services out of your own pocket, myself and the rest of Joe Public have no reason to care how you go about your business, so long as you're not violating our rights in the process.

The military is wholly funded by taxpayer monies, is seen as a representative of the American people abroad, and is tasked with protecting and upholding our Constitution - excellent reasons why their actions and expenses belong under the public microscope.

Now, apply an ounce of imagination and think about the complex plans a government might need to make, where premature public disclosure would screw things up.

Yea, if they ever wanted to enact Martial Law, or commit genocide, or literally throw out the rest of the Constitution, I can understand how public knowledge of the plan would cause issues. Considering this is supposed to be an open, democratically-represented republic of the People, for the People, and by the People, I can think of no legitimate reason for the state to keep the People in the dark about... well, anything.

Re:Or, And This is Just a Thought... (1)

bws111 (1216812) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557187)

Except that most of the leaked stuff wasn't about anybody DOING anything. It was about people THINKING things. If, for example, a diplomat is asked what his opinion of someone he is negotiating with is, he better be able to privately and honestly say 'I don't really trust the guy - I think he is lying'. If everything every government employee or official thinks is going to be public information, that is going to lead to nothing except 'toeing the party line' or remaining quiet. And that is just bad for everyone.

Transparency (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556531)

You know, if the government was more transparent there wouldn't be the need for people to leak all the crap that's happening in the secret backroom deals. I'm looking at you TPP!

prototype (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556543)

they've built 'a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation and then tracking access

So that's how Obama got that birth certificate.

How... (4, Interesting)

Dahamma (304068) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556553)

...is anyone going to tell this disinformation apart from the disinformation that makes up the majority of mainstream news today, anyway?

Re:How... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556783)

This won't be coming out of congress peoples mouths.

As a taxpayer... (5, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556555)

Deliberately creating and circulating misniformation seems like an unethical use of my tax money, much like propaganda campaigns.

What citizen ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556827)

You don't trust the ministery of history ? You probably did not watch enough telescreen... Kinda seditious....

Re:What citizen ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557129)

Jesus, that's some good satire.

Re:As a taxpayer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556893)

So undercover police officers, the vast majority of the CIA, and most combat countermeasures are a no go in your book?

Re:As a taxpayer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557153)

Propaganda is distinct from disinformation campaigns for the purposes of intelligence gathering. Propaganda seeks to cultivate support for an agenda. Disinformation for use in smoking out a mole does not necessarily have a positive spin for the people in power. In fact, if the information is scandalous enough for someone to leak, it would most likely be quite the opposite of material intended to cultivate support for any politician's agenda.

A standard, age-old counter-inteliigence technique (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556561)

You don't even have to generate misinformation. All you have to do is introduce plausible variation. Just make each copy slightly different and remember what those differences are.

The *new* foggy logic. (2)

gestalt_n_pepper (991155) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556579)

where some bright fellow in the government mistakes a real document for a false one, or vice versa, and makes a decision about some silly thing like national defense based on misinformation.

But of course, that will never happen.

Re:The *new* foggy logic. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556707)

Na, they'd need to read the document for that, it is a rather well known and sad fact that politicians seldomly read things, not even papers they put their signature on.

Re:The *new* foggy logic. (1)

The Mister Purple (2525152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556957)

I wouldn't be worried about the politicians, who tend to be more of the "big picture" types. I would worry about the bureaucrats, who tend to be the "small detail" types... and aren't in the public eye as much.

Re:The *new* foggy logic. (1)

qzjul (944600) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556975)

We'll know things have gotten horribly out of hand when we initiate shock & awe vs Antarctica.

Sooo... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556589)

They're just going to make Fox News a requirement for all relevant offices?

Re:Sooo... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556659)

They're just going to make Fox News a requirement for all relevant offices?

No no. BELIEVABLE disinformation is what they're going to be circulating.

Sorry. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556601)

I don't want my tax dollars being wasted on this kind of stupidity.

Defund this branch of government immediately.

Confused. Possibly. (1)

zenlessyank (748553) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556629)

It would seem that if the Pentagram err, sorry, the Pentagon, would want to implement such tactics that they probably wouldn't post it up on the internet, given that they, by nature, are a 'secret keeping' entity. It would also seem that this is a ploy to 'poison the well' concerning the existing leaked information that is already out there, that the Pentagram, err Pentagon can't get back.

Honeypot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556631)

Sounds very similar to the Honeypot idea. Not new but if they are using that as a model it could work.

Re:Honeypot? (1)

Hollywud (2387102) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556709)

Indeed. Is that project still active?

Re:Honeypot? (1)

fotoflojoe (982885) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556899)

Also sounds similar to the Canary Trap.

Posting as AC... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556647)

sorry, but you'll understand posting as AC here. I just got this top-secret document that says the US Government is going to reform copyright; it and all related/neighboring rights are given the same term of protection as patents!

Gotta go, someone knocking at my DC office door...

Well, (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556663)

That should clear everything up!

Tom Clancy calls this a "canary trap" (5, Informative)

Thagg (9904) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556665)

It's a pretty common idea, really. Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] entry.

Re:Tom Clancy calls this a "canary trap" (2)

Trepidity (597) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556925)

Even the MPAA has done this for years [torrentfreak.com] , and they aren't known for being cutting-edge technologists.

Re:Tom Clancy calls this a "canary trap" (1)

mrbene (1380531) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556985)

What's interesting is that in this case, it's not the single document that has multiple copies - it's that the set of documents that any one person has access to is unique, and padded with person-specific misinformation, and with embedded tracking pixels! So there are theoretically three ways of detecting a leak - by determining which set is out in the wild, by examining the specific misinformation (in the case of incomplete sets), and by seeing what pixels get activated from external IPs.

The first detection is readily circumvented by leaking only a subset of the docs you have access to. The third is similarly trivial to block. And the middle one (person-specific misinformation) is back to being a canary trap.

Generic or incriminating documents? (1)

Beardydog (716221) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556681)

Preposterously oversized Manning leak aside, most government leaks tend to focus on either some kind of specific wrongdoing that the leaker came across in the normal course of business, or portray the leaker or their clique in a positive light.This leads me to two questions:

1. Can this do anything to stop those much more frequent leaks, in which people don't spend large chunks of their time executing identifiable search patterns, and simply grab a few files on the fly that catch their interest?

2. Could this process involve the deliberate creation of false incriminating documents ("the CIA is injecting babies with anthrax!") for the sole purpose of catching good, honest people that think such things should be public knowledge? Along that line of thinking, what would you actually charge a government employee with? It isn't actually a classified document, and if it is, it obviously shouldn't be. Even if you think of it as an important investigatory in and of itself for finding leakers, it is a) designed to go public, and b) being deployed willy-nilly, against no one in particular, not against a specific target frim whom there is a known threat.

It could also spawn a series of creepy trends in which a disturbing story about government wrongdoing is reported, a leaker is arrested, and the government gets to announce that it caught a naughty traitor, and by the way, we weren't really killing babies, it was just a trap to catch that naughty traitor.

After enough of those, I can imagine it getting increasingly difficult for a leaker with material of genuine concern to the public to find a reputable outlet to disseminate it. I can also imagine the bulk of the public dismissing genuine stories that reach the news as "another one of those fake leaks."

The whole thing sounds weird.

Re:Generic or incriminating documents? (1)

jfengel (409917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557091)

It's actually aimed primarily at Manning-style leaks, where somebody just dumps everything they have access to onto a disk and sends it to be printed. The kind where people don't even read what they're taking, and don't have any actual connection to it.

The paper describes a kind of glorified Mad Libs, to be thrown out whenever somebody tries to make a big copy of a data system. At the very least you'd need to scan the documents to separate out the ones that were fake before you publish them. If you miss one, the fingerprint would identify who took it.

It still seems rather impractical, even for its limited goal. You'd need to insert it at the network level, and the system operators really would not enjoy maintaining that. IT is a hassle even for ordinary operations. Adding an extra layer of complication for obfuscation purposes makes IT's job even harder.

The paper is full of other ideas, including using obfuscated source code to finger people who leak software. Doesn't that sound like fun to work with?

This is DARPA. They're expected to do a bunch of useless stuff in hopes that something will actually turn out well. Some ideas, though...

I can see the false positives now (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556683)

[Cleveland]
Secret Service Agent 1: Sir, we've finished sweeping the area. POTUS is clear to enter the convention center.

[New York]
Secret Service Agent 2: We're bringing him in now.

[Washington D.C.]
President: WTF? Where is everybody?

Counterproductive (1)

Blindman (36862) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556685)

If the information is need-to-know only, then giving the people that need-to-know false information will lead to wasted time. If a person doesn't need to know, then the person shouldn't have the information in the first place. The example in the article of burying useful information in a sea of noise still presumes that someone can exceed their access in the first place. Those things should be preventable in the first instance.

Re:Counterproductive (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557033)

If the information is need-to-know only, then giving the people that need-to-know false information will lead to wasted time. If a person doesn't need to know, then the person shouldn't have the information in the first place. The example in the article of burying useful information in a sea of noise still presumes that someone can exceed their access in the first place. Those things should be preventable in the first instance.

The problem is, someone in that "need to know" circle is believed to be leaking information. You can either get rid of everybody in the circle, do nothing, or find the rat. This is how they go about doing the latter.
Doing nothing sounds like a REALLY bad idea to me, and getting rid of everyone sounds MORE counter productive than this. Further, getting rid of everyone in the circle probably means the people deciding what to do about the problem would be getting rid of themselves, too.

Wair, they re-invented FOX News? ^^ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556693)

I feel confident, that this will hurt our enemies more than our allies.
You know: The feds more than the citizens.
Feds, as in: corporations.

Fogging is a play on Clouds? (1)

mevets (322601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556713)

Who writes this shit? Is there some smart ass in the back room feeding the author bullshit every time he asks a stupid question?

Yo Dawg! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556719)

I heard you like disinformation in your information, so I went ahead and disinformed your information and reformed your disinformation.

Great, now... (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556721)

Put the same sort of effort into discovering and prosecuting those who classify documents to avoid embarassment, rather than ensure national security. This group is far larger, and far more dangerous than any group of whistleblowers.

Ombudsman is the answer (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556737)

The answer to leaks like this is not to punish the leakers. But for there to be a branch of the government that is tasked with ferreting out the corruption and misuse of power that creates the ethical compulsion to expose malfeasance within the government. Bring the criminals being protected by secrecy to justice and you no longer have a compelling reason to publicly expose those secrets. Provide REAL transparency and accountability, not the bullshit tokens and false claims that got Obama into office.

I can't wait... (1)

Balial (39889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556741)

... until a misinformation document gets rolled up into a report to higher ups and the president and policy is set or action is taken based on it.

ie. what could possibly go wrong?

First Post! Yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556743)

Not really. It was a "disinformation comment."

A new age of shoddy reporting. (1)

GT66 (2574287) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556813)

Boy, is Fox News going to look dumb making non-stop retractions.

Re:A new age of shoddy reporting. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557255)

1) Fox News lies all day long anyway, and never makes retractions.

2) The idiots that watch and believe everything they hear on Fox News will never think it looks dumb, no matter what it does.

The Cuckoos Nest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556851)

Its been done!

Sure, if by "plan" you mean "have no plans" (1)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556865)

This is a DARPA project. What that means is they are doing it to see if they can, and what problems will come about if they actually try it not because they actually plan on doing anything with it. Other DARPA projects include: flying tanks, thought-controlled robot arms, high energy lasers, hypersonic aircraft, passive radar, onion routing, and the precursor to the Internet. You'll note that only a few of those are actual, real, working, practical things (ironically, some of them are also the cause of the problem they are trying to solve now).

This project seems like it has a multitude of uses: ways to identify and track the false information, automatic generation tools, and a whole bunch of random security tools that can genuinely be useful in protecting secure networks from intrusion (some of which look extremely useful for private network security, which is most likely where this technology will end up, judging by past DARPA projects)..

To fool your enemies... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40556885)

To fool your enemies, first you must fool yourself.

Creating the illusion of missinformation (2)

Igot1forya (2609733) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556901)

This system creates a basis for a "deny everything" notion - which is ALREADY in use. Why create false information at all, just announce that you have a system to create false information and the masses will simply suspect everything is false information. To quote a song a friend of mine wrote, "Area 51 is a coverup for Area 52".

I cant see this working... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556941)

Unless you send the fake stuff to all t he senators, and diplomats. Someone can easily determine the fake stuff if they see that Z,Y, and X never get's sent to the president, or any diplomat, but A,B,and C does get sent and matches the news. Otherwise a nice export of all messages sent to diplomats over the past 2 years will contain both and therefore will not tell you anything.

I guess it will catch the dumb opportunistic spy, but I cant see it catching anyone with a brain.

How about simply getting AWAY from the stupidity of storing everything in pain text? all messages are encrypted and KEPT THAT WAY. a message from hillary to Bohner should not be stored in the clear or with a key that some lowly tech can access it's contents. How about upgrading the Government and Military IT away from commodity crap like Windows and to a custom system that is actually secure from threats inside and out?

This is (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556953)

This has more similarities to cloud computing than just the name. Both are something that has been done for many many years already. They both just got a new fancy name in an effort to get people excited about the same old same old.

I am Moredoc (3, Funny)

DontBlameCanada (1325547) | more than 2 years ago | (#40556961)

The Enabler of Disinformation Services! You may know my brother, Mordac the Preventer of Information Services.

Misinformation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557019)

Now it'll be even harder to subpoena the Attorney General.

This isn't new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557083)

This is as old as counterintelligence. Even the movie "The Falcon and the Snowman" shows this method being used. If you think they are planting bogus info then push your own bogus info.

track this! (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557157)

You know, that major military leak was tracked because the username submitting it was like first initial - last name - year he was born lol. But in case they're not so lucky with it being such an epic dumbass the next time, I think individual tracking in such a way would work. The problem is, how do you let decision makers know the data is fake without letting the data intermediary staff who might leak it know it's fake?

By the way, I'm totally not a secret undercover federal agent but I heard that there's actually a life sized replica of the white house made out of gingerbread and frosting in Nebraska where the president will travel to in case of a terrorist attack so they can have shelter and a reliable food supply. But nobody leak that top secret information to anyone, okay?

View All Link. Use it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40557169)

Please don't link to multi-page TFAs [wired.com] in your submission. Link to the one with all pages [wired.com] , or print view if available. These days, that seems to be the only way online articles are readable on otherwise overweight websites.

More Government Control (5, Interesting)

davegravy (1019182) | more than 2 years ago | (#40557207)

What this amounts to is a way out for the government any time something embarrassing is leaked through the likes of Wikileaks (or similar). The government can simply announce that a piece of leaked information was part of their disinformation campaign... the population can rest safely knowing that the offending "leaker" is being brought to justice (i.e scape goat is sent off to Gitmo), and that the information leaked is not actually true.

This campaign isn't to give the government power against the untrustworthy, it's to give the untrustworthy government more power over you.

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