Terrorists' latest way of information sharing

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

The latest nigh on intercept proof way of information sharing that terrorists have come up with could have been invented by a grade school kid. They now use draft folders of web mail services rather than actually sending emails.

Instead of sending emails – even encrypted ones – to communicate with one another, which can and will be intercepted and stored, terrorists have now begun using web mail draft folders for the exchange of communications.

The system is so simple and easy that it could have been thought up by a fourth grader. The chance is it may just have been one.

Each member of a particular cell has the username and password for the particular web mail account in question and log on at a time when none of the other will be logged into the account and then read the message(s) in the draft folder and add reply.

Note: This is also a cute way of document co-authoring without having to use an in-the-cloud service

As no email is sen d or received no intercept of this communication is possible – at least not at present.

This method could be referred to as a Cyberspace Dead Letter Drop.

The interesting part here is though that no one will or can – with the exception that the IPs will be different and the locations – realize that more than one person uses that particular email account online.

To all intents and purposes any access to the account will always appear to be b y the user though from different IPs and global locations even.

But, unless the account could come under investigation nothing would throw a marker up to this effect and flag that behavior, as it is something rather common with web mail, as strange, for instance.

In so-called free and democratic countries it just would way too much be an infringement of personal liberties – which indeed it would be – and also an infringement of business secrecy, to, in fact, monitor email accounts for just such activities and to read the messages in the draft email folders, or documents in any other folder stored on the web mail account.

I also doubt that any of our governments would want to be seen to be that intrusive and I think that most people would not go along with permitting our governments to become that intrusive a “Big Brother”, , though we already have a nigh on total surveillance state in the UK, for instance.

The implications of this practice of communicating and information sharing, however, are rather serious as it will make having prior knowledge a lot harder.

Then again the same is true also in this regard with the terrestrial old style dear letter drops.

Dead letter drops of the old kind did sometimes come to notice and could then be observed and such. This is somewhat more difficult, obviously, with such dead letter drops being in the cloud, in cyberspace, in web mail accounts, as monitoring of accounts, as said, could be a real infringement of so many things and not just civil liberties.

Then again, what would one be watching for? The owner/user of the account logging on; then off and then on again?

Having something stored in the draft folder also is no proof of any terrorist or other illegal activities.

What this proves, however, is that there is always a way around intercepts and surveillance and someone does come up with such things and some of those things are so simple that it is amazing that no one has used them for much longer already. This system is so simple that is beggars belief, really. We can but wonder as to “what next?”.

© 2009