Feeds

Scheme to crash US Echelon net snoop ops hatched

Unfortunately, it looks like the planners are barking up the wrong tree...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Security for virtualized datacentres

The world is invited to overload the US National Security Agency's electronic eavesdropping network, known as Echelon, on 21 October. Place keywords which are believed to trigger a response from the system in your outgoing e-mail messages and faxes, and over it goes -- at least, that's the plan.

The jam-in is rumoured to be the brainchild of Linda Thompson, a constitutional rights attorney and chairwoman of the American Justice Federation, a dubious outfit with ties to several paramilitary groups in the US, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

Should enough people participate, liberal sprinklings of such words as militia, weapon, manifesto, terrorist, bomb, Special Forces, Delta Force, Mossad, MI5, revolution, and the like sent out in millions of e-mail messages will bring the NSA temporarily to its knees. Or so the theory goes.

It sounds like great craic to us, but after following a tip posted at Hacker News Network, we're persuaded that the event is likely to be a flop. Not because we doubt Echelon's existence, but because the NSA appears not to track keywords at all.

According to an NSA fact sheet, their preferred method of information sorting and retrieval is "totally independent of particular languages or topics of interest, and relies for guidance solely upon examples provided by the user. It employs no dictionaries, keywords, stoplists, stemming, syntax, semantics, or grammar."

A patent-number graciously provided at the end of the document led us to more detailed information. "The present invention uses a pattern-recognition technique based on n-gram comparisons among documents instead of the traditional keyword or context-based approach," the patent information specifies.

We're not a hundred per cent sure what that all means, but we sense it spells bad news for "Jam Echelon Day". The mindless insertion of keywords being urged upon would-be participants looks like a mere exercise.

Unless a tremendous number of messages contain such linguistic "patterns" as, "the forty pounds of heroin you ordered is on its way via speed-boat," or "we're holding Chelsea Clinton at gun-point in a van parked beneath the Brooklyn Bridge," or "we will blow up a kindergarten tomorrow in protest of Northern Ireland's imminent occupation by Naval commandos of the Holy See," one's e-mail is unlikely to be honoured by interest from Echelon. Nuts... ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Lords take revenge on REVENGE PORN publishers
Jilted Johns and Jennies with busy fingers face two years inside
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.