Dum and Dum'er January 30, 2008 8:00 AM

The article says they use skype, as if the USA gov or other would let a technology be used that would leave them deaf / not able to read, give us a break. Cryptome posted , as did bruce new directives for owning the net and listing in. The only thing notable is the “wilderness” trips they might take, whats next, cameras / listing devices in the forests or agents disguised as pine trees. There needs to be more intel gathering by human sources.

Kudzu January 30, 2008 8:04 AM

Bruce is your wifi still open? 🙂

“Other times, they cruised through randomly picked neighborhoods in search of unsecured wireless connections, all in an effort to make it more difficult to monitor their e-mail traffic and Web searches, police said.”

David January 30, 2008 8:25 AM

Notice the majority of these are on trial, have been arrested, etc., etc. Good old-fashioned cop-shoe leather, as usual, is what’s effective.

But McConnell insists he must have the go-ahead to wiretap the entire Internet. He may think he needs that but make no mistake, whatever he plans to do with it it hasn’t got a goddamn thing to do with catching Islamothugs.

Mark Denovich January 30, 2008 8:45 AM

“But it’s different with the elite ones, the clever guys who are Internet experts with white-collar jobs, sitting behind a desk. They are very sophisticated professionals who are able to counter the surveillance of the intelligence agencies.”

I am assuming the “elite” ones aren’t the ones getting caught and the subject of the article. Relying on silly codes “taxi drivers” and “dough” is pretty sad in when PGP is so easy. How am I supposed to be terrified of these armatures?

Carlo Graziani January 30, 2008 10:50 AM

The technology may be changing, but my guess is there’s a lot that has not changed since the days when the FBI was monitoring communications of other paranoid organizations, like the Mob, and KGB illegals. They were pretty creative getting around countermeasures then (at one point I seem to recall they collected racketeering evidence by bugging a parking meter), and I’m sure they haven’t lost the flair.

The fact that secure encryption has come to the masses only means that the weak points of conspiracy have moved elsewhere. It doesn’t mean conspiracies are secure. The evidence is that they are not, and the article basically seems to confirm this.

I fully concur with David. Shoe-leather, not society-wide comms monitoring, is the key to busting these people.

sooth_sayer January 30, 2008 10:54 AM

This article is interesting in only one way.
It points out that these terrorists are small group of useless bums who think they can talk in code and be successful.

Number of bombing and other terrorist acts show that these groups are not organized and their attempts to bring down the western world are wet dreams of a few psychopaths.
Even average street criminals develop minor codewords and phrases .. so what if these guys use arabic codes.

derf January 30, 2008 10:57 AM

Lucky I’m not a big fan of eggplant or zucchini, so I won’t get caught speaking about them too often.

Brandioch Conner January 30, 2008 11:30 AM

“It points out that these terrorists are small group of useless bums who think they can talk in code and be successful.”

Correction, they think they can talk in a CHILD’S code and be successful.

That would just defeat the automated spying that our government keeps pushing. That won’t do anything when it comes to the real way to bust criminals such as this. Good police work.

Joe Buck January 30, 2008 11:46 AM

Kudzu: you incorrectly think that because Bruce’s wifi connection is open, that he sends his data over the link in the clear. VPN’s and SSH use strong crypto; same with HTTPS connections.

Bodi January 30, 2008 1:21 PM

Joe Buck: I don’t see any reference to data interception. The wardriving is just to find an unsecured wireless access point they can use for chat or email. Bruce (if I recall correctly) says he has his wireless publicly accessible but locks down his local network.
I guess he has to worry that some terrorist internet activity will be traced to his IP address, after these terorists use his open wireless AP. The thing is, though, that these guys are supposedly using no connection twice – travelling long distances to “virgin” internet cafes for example. Whatever system the “good guys” have to follow this internet activity, they must assume that the originating address is worthless or at least be able to determine that fact pretty easily.

Matt D. January 30, 2008 1:57 PM

If they were smarter, they’d just start playing Counterstrike. It’s got integrated voice chat, and you can talk about terrorism, bombs and hostages all day long and maintain plausible deniability.

Reader X January 30, 2008 4:02 PM

Matt D.,

Or just post to obscure blogs.

Oh, and BTW, I was sorry to hear that your friend the taxi driver was taken to the hospital after being caught with a large quantity of eggplant.

Did I say “being caught with”? I meant “eating”. EATING!

unrelated January 30, 2008 4:24 PM

Rowe received a 15-year prison sentence, even though prosecutors and police said his precise plans remained a mystery

So, IOW, he was convicted for “suspicion of being a terrorist”. Rather than an actual, concrete plot, it seems that suspicious activity is enough to get you a prison term.

dex January 30, 2008 4:32 PM

The frequent mentions of how secure Skype is make me wonder if Skype hasn’t been cracked and this is a bit of disinformation.

Curt Sampson January 30, 2008 5:57 PM

I wonder if the ever-expanding surveillance and resulting brouhaha are not in fact making the job harder for anti-terrorist agencies. Since these agencies have made it clear that they are attempting to monitor as much as possible, they might be exerting a form of natural selection on the bad guys that will push them to use better encryption and tradecraft much faster than they would otherwise, leaving the agencies with much more data to analyze, but little more information to be gotten from it.

NE Patriot January 30, 2008 6:11 PM

Not surprising– this is just the garden variety Cold War stuff of the OSS and George Smiley. Next, we’ll see one-time pads and Enigma machines as Al Qaeda dusts off more of those old techniques.

Lawrence D'Oliveiro January 31, 2008 1:48 AM

Don’t rely on Skype staying uncracked. One of its developers has admitted that its security would not stand up to open-source scrutiny.

Anony-mouse January 31, 2008 5:46 AM

“Experts said the codes […] can be time-consuming to crack, especially if the targets are conversing in Arabic.”

Oh yes? No one knows Arabic on the intelligence side? phobia man! phobia!

Continental January 31, 2008 8:38 AM

The article gives an interesting angle to the capture of the three suspects in Germany and their communication habits, never using the same computer twice. The German Minister of Interior, in his campaign for a government Trojan spyware to do (preferably warrantless) online searches of connected computers, claims that the terrorist suspects were caught only because some (foreign) law enforcement or intelligence agency ‘spied’ in their PCs. This does not match very well with the tactics described in the article.
The silver lining of all the stories supposed to support further surveillance is the quote from the Italian investigator, who shows some common sense and also confirms what many real (as opposed to political) investigators confirm from their experience: “The bottom line is that we’ll have to work more and more with human sources” One could add: and other traditional methods of investigation, in particular following the streams of money.

-ac- January 31, 2008 11:19 AM

@Kudzu – Heck, Bruce Schneier’s brain is so far advanced, he can detect the wifii access and proxy redirect them to squid image repositories all while singing La Traviata in the shower. Pretty simple trick, since he has the worlds single most complete list of MAC addresses encrypted as a quantum hologram in the right hemisphere of his cerebrum.

samson January 31, 2008 12:15 PM

“The frequent mentions of how secure Skype is make me wonder if Skype hasn’t been cracked and this is a bit of disinformation.”

Skype? Secure?


If anyone trusts any closed source program to be secure you are pissing up a rope and have my laughter to go along with your stupidity!

Paul January 31, 2008 11:24 PM

“a Ugandan immigrant is scheduled to go on trial this month on charges of receiving terrorist training”

I’m supprised you can be charged with this. I wonder what defines “terrorist training”.

Tapani February 1, 2008 7:55 PM

You do realize where this is heading? Camping, outdoor activities and other such “aberrant behavior” is going be promptly outlawed.

That will also conveniently solve the State and National Park budget crisis.

perianwyr February 4, 2008 5:18 PM

If they were smarter, they’d just start playing Counterstrike. It’s got integrated voice chat, and you can talk about terrorism, bombs and hostages all day long and maintain plausible deniability.

Almost any MMO will do better. You have a whole universe of impenetrable jargon that can refer to real things and game things at the same time if you wish.

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