They Hid in Plain Sight

December 28, 2015

Those who carried out last November’s attacks in Paris made their plans in the open, but intelligence agencies failed to discover and thwart those plans beforehand. TechDirt reveals “Details of How The Paris Attacks Were Carried Out Show Little Effort by Attackers to Hide Themselves.” To us, that means intelligence agencies must not be making much use of the Dark Web. What about monitoring of mobile traffic? We suggest that some of the marketing may be different from the reality of these systems.

Given the apparent laxity of these attackers’ security measures, writer Mike Masnick wonders why security professionals continue to call for a way around encryption. He cites an in-depth report by  the

Wall Street Journal’s Stacy Meichtry and Joshua Robinson, and shares some of their observations; see the article for those details. Masnick concludes:

“You can read the entire thing and note that, nowhere does the word ‘encryption’ appear. There is no suggestion that these guys really had to hide very much at all. So why is it that law enforcement and the intelligence community (and various politicians) around the globe are using the attacks as a reason to ban or undermine encryption? Again, it seems pretty clear that it’s very much about diverting blame for their own failures. Given how out in the open the attackers operated, the law enforcement and intelligence community failed massively in not stopping this. No wonder they’re grasping at straws to find something to blame, even if it had nothing to do with the attacks.”

Is “terrorism” indeed a red herring for those pushing the encryption issue? Were these attackers an anomaly, or are most terrorists making their plans in plain sight? Agencies may just need to look in the right directions.

Cynthia Murrell, December 28, 2015

Sponsored by, publisher of the CyberOSINT monograph


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