Friday Squid Blogging: Natural Squid Steganography

Squid can communicate with each other without any other fish noticing:

Squid and their relatives have eyes that are sensitive to polarised light and to them and are known to use it to signal to one another. Their predators on the other hand, like seals or whales, don’t share this ability and cannot see the squids’ signals.

Most of all, the polarised iridescent light, is not affected by the chromatophores and passes through unaltered. This means that camouflaged squid can have entire visual conversations while remaining invisible to passing predators. In the world of squid, conversations carry secrets wrapped in lies.

Posted on October 10, 2008 at 4:58 PM β€’ 16 Comments


security_consultant#37863 β€’ October 10, 2008 9:14 PM

HOLY CRAP! This is a big breach:

World Bank Under Cyber Siege in ‘Unprecedented Crisis’

The World Bank Group’s computer network β€” one of the largest repositories of sensitive data about the economies of every nation β€” has been raided repeatedly by outsiders for more than a year, FOX News has learned…..
…”We’re not talking about hackers playing games or messing up our website,” insists a senior member of the bank’s IT department at its Washington headquarters. “It’s about the FBI coming last summer and saying, ‘You should take a look at your systems because we think something weird is going on.’ It’s about the intruders knowing what information they wanted β€” and getting to it whenever they wanted to. They took our existing data stores and organized them in a way that they could be easily accessed at will.”

In plainspeak: “They had access to everything,” says the source. “They had the keys to every room at the bank. And we can’t say whether they still do or don’t until we fully and openly address what’s happening here.”

The data raids are not a matter of stealing inconsequential bits and bytes. The World Bank’s data center is literally a treasure trove of vital financial information from around the globe. As a clearinghouse for financial data from both governments and companies, the bank’s computers could provide intruders with both a financial and intelligence gold mine β€” from inside information on bids and contracts to the minutes of confidential board meetings.

Anybody else have more detailed information?

vader β€’ October 11, 2008 5:56 AM

Sorry: Ploarized light is not invisible to normal eyes. It’s just as bright as unpolarized light. Normal eyes only cannot detect the polarisation, but certainly they see the intensity.

The article would make sense if the squids would just modulate the polarisation w/o affecting the intensity of reflection. But that not what the original article says.

Regards — Markus

RacerX β€’ October 11, 2008 11:27 AM

HOLY CRAP! This is a big breach:

World Bank Under Cyber Siege in ‘Unprecedented Crisis’

Does this involve squids?????? Is it caused by squids??????

Mr. Squid β€’ October 11, 2008 11:30 AM

As an attorney that represents squids I must inform you that my clients take offense at attempts to decipher their private communication.

I am hereby requesting that Mr Schneier ceases to propagate information about my clients private life.

HumHo β€’ October 11, 2008 11:34 AM

It could be that Bruce is just trying to write in encrypted way. Perhaps where he writes “squid” we should read “terrorist”, or the other way around.

Previous blog entries could thus be, not “Data Mining for Terrorists Doesn’t Work” or “Nonviolent Activists Are Now Terrorists”, but “Data Mining for Squids Doesn’t Work” or “Nonviolent Activists Are Now Squids”. I think this would make everything clearer.

A Nonny Mouse β€’ October 11, 2008 4:05 PM

I’m disappointed with the squids using “security through obscurity”.

The article seems to claim the predators can’t see the signal. Which is not the same as claiming they can’t see the polarized light.

Baby β€’ October 12, 2008 12:55 PM

I think we have so much to learn from the World beneath the waves, why bother with space exploration? This is a classic example, OK we got Teflon from the space race but so much more has and will benefit us from looking downwards.

ConservancyDwarf β€’ October 13, 2008 10:33 AM

Actually Human eye has the ability to seepolarization (See Haidinger’s Brush, documented in the 1800’s). Most of us just don’t recognize it for what it is.

Cred to the squids for taking this sense and jetting off with it. Are there and biologists recording the signals with 1/4 wave plates and putting the signals somewhere that folks with too much time can play with? Be a lot more fun than SETI…

pfogg β€’ October 13, 2008 7:41 PM

Clearly, one should never play poker with a squid…his invisible friend might be looking over your shoulder and signaling.

So can we modify RFC1149, train up some squid, and organize a secret ocean network? Too late, I guess, since the secret’s out.

Noble_Serg β€’ October 15, 2008 8:31 AM

You may have blogged this in your Friday squid entry before, but the new Oceans Hall at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History has one of these monsters on display.

It’s in a case with preservative that’s obviously keeping it frozen (or at least cold) and by the looks of it, may be some sort of pressurized container.

Worth a trip over if you’re in DC and want to see this and some other new ocean-based stuff (like that prehistoric fish once thought to be extinct, etc.)

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.