Feeds

Jihadi-sniffers blame White House for leaking secrets

Backdoor fingered in DC leaky brief rumpus

Boost IT visibility and business value

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.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Govt control? Hah! It's IMPOSSIBLE to have a successful command economy
Even Moore's Law can't help the architects of statism now
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
This'll end well: US govt says car-to-car jibber-jabber will SAVE lives
Department of Transportation starts cogs turning for another wireless comms standard
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
New voting rules leave innocent Brits at risk of SPAM TSUNAMI
Read the paperwork very carefully - or fall victim to marketing shysters
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
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.