[Politech logo]

Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of culture, technology, politics, and law. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Politech challenge: Decode Al Qaeda stego-communications!


From: "Richard M. Smith" <rms@computerbytesman.com>
To: <declan@well.com>
Subject: Calling all amateur codebreakers
Date: Wed, 10 Jul 2002 08:49:45 -0400


USA Today just ran an article about Al Qaeda allegedly using
steganography to communicate via Web sites using hidden messages in
ordinary MP3 and JPEG files.  I have attached the relevant sections of
the article.

Does anyone on the Politech list want to take a crack at locating one of
these files with a hidden message?  Extra credit is given if the hidden
message can be decrypted!  According to USA Today, the files are located
at ebay.com and azzam.com.

The New York Times also did a nice article last fall on steganography:

    Veiled Messages of Terrorists May Lurk in Cyberspace

Richard M. Smith


Militants wire Web with links to jihad

Lately, al-Qaeda operatives have been sending hundreds of encrypted
messages that have been hidden in files on digital photographs on the
auction site eBay.com. Most of the messages have been sent from Internet
cafes in Pakistan and public libraries throughout the world. An eBay
spokesperson did not return phone calls.

The volume of the messages has nearly doubled in the past month,
indicating to some U.S. intelligence officials that al-Qaeda is planning
another attack.

U.S. officials say azzam.com contains encrypted messages in its pictures
and texts - a practice known as steganography. They say the hidden
messages contain instructions for al-Qaeda's next terrorist attacks.
Mathematicians and other experts at the National Security Agency at Fort
Meade, Md., are using supercomputers to try to break the encryption
codes and thwart the attacks.

POLITECH -- Declan McCullagh's politics and technology mailing list
You may redistribute this message freely if you include this notice.
To subscribe to Politech: http://www.politechbot.com/info/subscribe.html
This message is archived at http://www.politechbot.com/
Declan McCullagh's photographs are at http://www.mccullagh.org/
Like Politech? Make a donation here: http://www.politechbot.com/donate/

Enter your email address to join Politech, Declan McCullagh's moderated technology and politics announcement list:

Return to politechbot.com