Feeds

Jihadi-sniffers blame White House for leaking secrets

Backdoor fingered in DC leaky brief rumpus

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

An American company dedicated to monitoring al-Qaeda internet activities says that leaks from the US government have destroyed web-snooping capabilities painstakingly built up over years.

SITE, the "Search for International Terrorist Entities", is a small Washington-based outfit which trawls the web for jihadist messages and propaganda. The firm's analysts listen to the much-pontificated-upon net "chatter", often held by media spookery pundits to foretell important terrorist events or trends. SITE operators also penetrate password-protected websites, and generally sniff about in places they aren't welcome.

Last month, according to SITE founder Rita Katz, her people managed to get hold of the latest Osama bin Laden vid prior to its public release. Thinking to give the White House a chance to prep its response ahead of time, she gave Bush administration staffers a link to a private SITE webpage so that they could download copies of Osama's latest thoughts.

When emailing the link to White House counsel Fred Fielding and Michael Leiter of the National Counterterrorism Centre, Katz wrote:

"Please understand the necessity for secrecy. We ask you not to distribute... it could harm our investigations."

Within 20 minutes, according to SITE's computer records - which have been reviewed and verified by the Washington Post - intelligence and security agencies all across the US government had begun to download the video from the SITE site. These organisations included the CIA, the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. Within five hours, the video and accompanying English transcript was on Fox News and other Western media outlets, well in advance of the al-Qaeda release.

Katz says the Fox material definitely originated with SITE, as the transcript page markers on the Fox website were identical to her people's. She says that the premature leak was disastrous. Al-Qaeda supporters, realising that access had been gained to network locations which they had considered secure, immediately changed their security procedures.

"Techniques that took years to develop are now ineffective and worthless," says Katz.

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
Facebook pays INFINITELY MORE UK corp tax than in 2012
Thanks for the £3k, Zuck. Doh! you're IN CREDIT. Guess not
DOUBLE BONK: Testy fanbois catch Apple Pay picking pockets
Users wail as tapcash transactions are duplicated
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Google Glassholes are UNDATEABLE – HP exec
You need an emotional connection, says touchy-feely MD... We can do that
YARR! Pirates walk the plank: DMCA magnets sink in Google results
Spaffing copyrighted stuff over the web? No search ranking for you
In the next four weeks, 100 people will decide the future of the web
While America tucks into Thanksgiving turkey, the world will be taking over the net
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
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.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.