Saturday, February 24, 2001
Secret Messages Come in .Wavs Steganography is the practice of hiding messages somewhat invisibly in other files, typically graphics files. By altering a small percentage of the bits in a file, bad guys can send messages to one another. Recently, it was reported that Big Baddie Osama bin Laden now uses steganographic applications to pass messages through sports chat rooms, sexually explicit bulletin boards and other sites. This is yet another reason why law enforcement is not going to be able to put the digital genie back in the bottle. Unfortunately, law enforcement will need to use good old fashioned investigative methods to catch the bad guys, because outlawing cryptography and even stenography just isn't going to work. Someone will always find a way around it, and, now that the Internet makes communicating this type of information relatively easy, every little script baby will have access to the latest bad guy tricks soon after they're invented. The answer, IMHO, is to change the world so criminals don't develop or at least limit the megalomaniac terrorists that are produced. That's probably impossible, but we won't know unless we try. How about better child care and social services? How about a decent living wage? How about help for developing countries, including services to help them get a long a little better? I guess that's idealistic, but it seems a whole lot more doable than using law enforcement to catch the crazies before they blow a hole in the side of the world. Or, we could put the oil company in charge of the environment, a Northwest airlines board member in charge of labor, and a Christian zealot in charge of enforcing the laws. Yeah, that could work.