Skip to comments.Al Qaeda suspect's porn film found to contain treasure trove of secret documents
Posted on 05/04/2012 1:18:22 PM PDT by Red Badger
A suspected member of the Al Qaeda terrorist group, arrested in May last year in Germany, was found with a memory stick hidden in his underwear. Police discovered the stick contained a password-protected folder with pornographic videos inside it, but suspicious computer forensic experts thought there must be more. After weeks of analysis, they determined that one of the pornographic videos contained concealed documents detailing Al Qaeda operations and plans.
The files were hidden in the video file through a process called steganography or concealed writing. The term steganography includes methods used for centuries, such as invisible ink, but now also includes techniques such as concealing (often unencrypted) content inside a digital image, video or audio file. Steganography conceals data within plain sight, which makes it difficult to detect.
Digital steganography can be done on audio files by manipulating the waveform to hide data, but such changes produce noise that is more obvious than changes visible to the eye. Data can be hidden in image files opened in a text editor simply by inserting text at the end of the file, but more sophisticated and effective methods use special software to manipulate individual bytes or pixels of the media file.
For example, readily available software can be used to manipulate the properties of individual pixels within an image. The color of pixels is determined by vector values representing the intensity of each color (red, green and blue in RGB systems, for example), and these values can be manipulated to hide data.
Other steganographic software tools convert bytes of data to be concealed into individual binary bits (0 and 1) that are then substituted for the least significant bits in the media file. The substitutions are spread throughout the media file following a sequence or algorithm, to make detection more difficult and distortion of the media file less noticeable.
Another, even more sophisticated method is to manipulate the discrete cosine transform coefficients (DCTs) used to compress JPEG files to hide date into parts of an image. This method enables the hidden data to survive even if the image is later cropped, resized or compressed.
The forensic task of revealing data hidden within files is complicated because the area is rapidly developing and becoming ever more sophisticated, but security programs are available that can help researchers detect manipulations within images and other digital files.
The researchers from the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA), spent many weeks examining the hidden pornographic video found on suspected Al Qaeda member, the Austrian Maqsood Lodin, when he was arrested in Berlin after returning from Pakistan. The video, called Kick Ass, was stored in a password-protected folder and within the video they found a file called Sexy Tanja. Further analysis of this file eventually revealed that it contained more than 100 concealed unencrypted documents describing Al Qaeda plans and operations.
A video file has ample room for concealing documents, and would be relatively easy to distribute. In Maqsood Lodins memory stick, the porn video contained hidden terrorist training manuals in pdf form in English, German and Arabic, along with numerous documents detailing planned future Al Qaeda attacks, and lessons learned from previous operations.
Lodin is currently on trial in Berlin, and has pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism.
Now that's funny in itself...
I’m not surprised at this: a similar method showed up in the early seasons of “NCIS”.
Some guys will claim disability after a year....forcing the government to give them early retirement.
They already do that.
They’ll just use this to claim it’s “work-related”.
I would write essays on my autocad drawings...then rescale the essay so it wasn’t much more than a dot on a 2’x3’ drawing.
I read somewhere that a good number of computer viruses spread by downloaded porn - reason #297 to avoid them :-)
And this info would be not available had a Predator / Reaper just “eliminated” the targeted with an AGM-114 HellFire
Disability?......Carpal Tunnel Syndrome?...........Blindness or Hairy Palms?........
This seems strange. Most stego packages have built-in crypto, so even if the files are detected they can’t be read.
Clever, those Germans..........
“Is that a memory stick in your pocket, or are you just glad to see me?”;)
I bet they are still there..........
I have often thought that volunteers allowing their computers to be used to search for intelligent life in images, much as a lot of people do, or did, with the SETI project, would be a good idea.
Except for the wee bit about trusting those who would run such a program with access to their computers... and that we might find ourselves wanting to use steganography one day...
I suppose I can assume at this point that there are dedicated computers out there, steadily crunching every image on the web to see what may be hiding in them.
Surprisingly, a lot of stego programs, or users, do not encrypt first.
re: now the tsa will be watching... I thought they already were, compliments of backscatter technology, except for when a 2-D image just isn’t enough.
I can just imagine the CTC going through hours of goat porn to find the hidden files.
So is this:
The researchers from the German Federal Criminal Police (BKA), spent many weeks examining the hidden pornographic video...
Yes, I am screaming: THIS TYPE OF INFORMATION SHOULD NOT BE RELEASED. TOP SECRET! LOOSE LIPS SINK SHIPS! WHOSE SIDE IS OUR GOVERNMENT ON?
Maqsood Lodin said...”Honest, I was just holding it for a friend.”
No wonder it’s called a “thumb drive”...
Now they're really gonna be motivated..............
Is that a memory stick full of porn in your pants, or...
You know, Biden claims Obama has a big stick.
I was thinking the same thing... I saw a similar article to this recently that talked about how most digital pictures now have gps coordinates built into them telling where the picture was taken... I didn't think that was information that needed releasing either.
I heard Bill Clinton was eager to get a gander at this research :)
Settle down man...the only difference here is the “container” for the data is different. This has been going on a long time and has been documented before when they were embedding info in png’s and jpg’s.
Memory stick in his pants. Like he’d forget what it is used for???
Wow, while somewhat clever, I’m glad they’re not truly sophisticated. /rest self-redacted
“After weeks of analysis...”
Ya know, Joe, we might have missed something....I’m gonna hafta take one more look...
Send me a copy, too, while you’re at it.............
Porn often had hidden meaning. When the lady is yelling YES YES YES and Oh God, it really means, not sex again with some 5 dollar paid actor loser, when will this be over.
Porn often has hidden messages. When the lady is yelling YES YES YES and Oh God, it really means, not sex again with some 5 dollar paid loser, when will this be over.
I would write essays on my autocad drawings...then rescale the essay so it wasnt much more than a dot on a 2x3 drawing.
There was a power point put out on this from the DoD to enlisted and contractors and the subject was picked up by regular media too a while back. Between the Images, and social networking postings, you could leave a trail of your comings and goings, when you weren’t home, etc... unless you disabled the GPS coordinate embedding on images and postings. I believe there might have been actual instances where the bad guys were able to utilize the coords from social networking posts to drop mortar rounds on certain targets.
yeah, that sounds like the article I read.
Yabbut, did Al Queda know that we had figured it out?!!? They would have continued using this method we had discovered, now they will stop using it.
Chrissie Matthews would know...ask him.
In retrospect, Heinz did seem a little too happy about being asked to work overtime.
Gee, I saw this in a 2006 rerun of CSI: Miami. German police are a little slow in the digital forensics department it appears.
So much for islamic super sensitivity to porn...
Pretty smart idea, actually. At least the sender of a message knows his message will be read.......................;^)
LOL - yes, that too.