Pentagon Disinformation Technology To Utilize “Fog Computing” To Track Leaks
July 5th, 2012
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Pentagon-funded researchers have come up with a new plan for busting leakers: Spot them by how they search,¬†and then entice the secret-spillers with decoy documents that will give them away.
Computer scientists call it¬†it ‚ÄúFog Computing‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ a play on today‚Äôs cloud computing craze. And in a¬†recent paper¬†for Darpa, the Pentagon‚Äôs premiere research arm, researchers say they‚Äôve built ‚Äúa prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation ‚Ä¶ and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this ‚Äėdisinformation technology.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
Two small problems: Some of the researchers‚Äô techniques are barely distinguishable from spammers‚Äô tricks. And they could wind up undermining trust among the nation‚Äôs secret-keepers, rather than restoring it.
The Fog Computing project is part of a¬†broader assault¬†on so-called ‚Äúinsider threats,‚ÄĚ launched by Darpa in 2010 after the WikiLeaks imbroglio. Today,¬†Washington is gripped by another frenzy over leaks ‚ÄĒ this time over disclosures about U.S. cyber sabotage and drone warfare programs. But the reactions to these leaks has been schizophrenic, to put it generously.¬†The nation‚Äôs top spy says America‚Äôs intelligence agencies will be strapping suspected leakers to lie detectors ‚ÄĒ even though the polygraph machines are famously flawed.¬†An investigation into who spilled secrets about the¬†Stuxnet cyber weapon¬†and the drone ‚Äúkill list‚ÄĚ has¬†already ensnared hundreds of officials¬†‚ÄĒ even though the reporters who disclosed the info patrolled the halls of power with the White House‚Äôs blessing.
That leaves¬†electronic tracking as the best means of shutting leakers down. And while you can be sure that counterintelligence and Justice Department officials are going through the e-mails and phone calls of suspected leakers, such methods have their limitations. Hence the interest in Fog Computing.
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Contributed by Noah Shachtman of Danger Room.
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