The Brits crack some emails

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This is an interesting tid bit from across the pond:

Police took months to break encrypted messages on his computer. They found he had been in direct contact with Awlaki, who is accused of having links to the attempted bombing of a plane over Detroit during Christmas in 2009 and an attempt last year to explode ink printer bombs on freight planes heading to the US.

– The Guardian

The plot came to light after expert from the Metropolitan Police Service Counter Terrorism Command spent nine months cracking 300 encrypted emails found on Karim’s hard drive.

– The Register

I say interesting, because encryption is a thorny issue. Generally, common wisdom holds a sufficiently large key size will take forever and a day to brute force. The common wisdom has to be balanced with a host of other factors such as the omnipresent human error, bad encryption (esp any encryption described as ‘proprietary’), but the real unknown is what kind of firepower various governments have at their disposal. It would be interesting to know how the emails were encrypted – a few more details on that and it could be viable to estimate what kind of number crunching 007 has over there.

Posted in Computer Science, Digital Forensics, News & Commentary Tagged with: