Watercooler

The IT capabilities of Bin Laden

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2 Votes
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The IT capabilities of Bin Laden

robo_dev
It has been reported that 'hundreds' of specialists are digging through the dozens of computer hard drives recovered from Bin Laden's compound.

I assume he ran Windows? What version?

Did he use project management software or perhaps a DBMS to track and manage his various tasks and projects?

What video surveillance system did he use? I would think the video footage of two blackhawk helicopters landing and a Navy Seal team deploying in your front yard would be neat to watch. I would assume they grabbed the DVR with that footage on it.

Whole disk encryption?

Anti-virus software?

Of course his house did not have voice or broadband service, but perhaps he was tethering a laptop to a satellite phone? Slow as molasses, but secure from surveillance.

A random thought would be if you're the world's most wanted bad guy, you would perhaps install some sort of thermite-drive-melter on all your data, and put it in a room where it all goes boom unless you enter the correct code in 15 seconds or so? It does not seem like he had a good BCP plan if all his data was captured.

Does Al Qaeda have an IT staff? A help desk?

I would suppose if an IT guy were to screw something up, the punishment would involve much more than a bad performance review?
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    JamesRL

    I would bet that Al Qaeda distrusts computers and use them as little as possible.

    I would think they probably never connected to the internet from the compound, even from satellite phones, for fear that NSA pattern matching might flag a large amount of encrypted traffic originating in one place.

    Instead, I think they do things on laptops, and USB keys. Couriers take the USB keys and go to internet cafes in bigger cities many miles away, and send messages and files, probably encrypted with PGP. They would also use code words for operations and operatives, assuming that eventually some of the files would be intercepted. Dates would only be referred to obliquely.

    I do recall that some Al Qaeda laptops were captured during the initial invasion of Afghanistan.

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    robo_dev

    Therefore a way to track terrorists is not to follow the money, but to see who buys a lot of flash drives. :)

    "The US assault force that killed bin Laden hauled away about five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 storage devices from his hideout in Pakistan, a US official said."

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    AnsuGisalas

    I think a demolitions expert disassembled them, just in case there'd be thermite surprises.

    Draconic security measures are hard to deal with... laptops are hard to lock up in a self-destruct vault - if you want to actually use them
    He should've gone for the Private Cloud - kept the data on a server in a self-destruct vault, and pull the data in and out of there using dumb terminals. Just have to make sure the dumb terminals flush their cache well enough.

    Good for the world he didn't, though.

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    JamesRL

    From some organizations I know....

    At one place I dealt with, you turned in your laptops HD every day. If you had to take work home you got a special work away HD. All important files were on the server only, and the server was in a very secure location. The laptops were still encrypted, just because they could, and I guess in case someone wanted to comb the cache for cookies and other info. If you took work home it had to be loaded onto a secure portable device.

    And this wasn't a spy agency....

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    AnsuGisalas

    a Tax agency? Who else could be so draconic?
    But government agencies are often relatively inept, so maybe a company with a hardcore R&D component is more likely.
    After all, the secrets they keep ARE their bottom line.

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    NexS

    That it is. 5 computers AND 10 hard drives, or does each computer have two hard drives? Maybe they were gettign their RAID on! Nothing worse than losing your terror gantt charts due to file corruption!

    What throws me is why they'd keep hundreds of 'storage devices' in one place...

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    AnsuGisalas

    Either they had external HDs, or someone in the SEALs has a very dept hand at removing HDs from desktops and servers. That's one IT guy you don't want to mess with

    As for all the memory sticks, they probably had a logistics bottleneck problem - one of the drawbacks of being hunted by half the world's intelligence agencies.
    So, on one hand they had to keep a stockpile, in case they have a few months of delivery failure, and on the other hand they might have had a pileup due to lack of outgoing couriers.

    Last thing is, they might have sent out the things in multiply redundant sets, each courier carrying the identical sets of sticks, so that if one guy drops, the package still gets there.
    The couriers probably carried the sticks inside their suicide charges, that way the evidence doesn't fall into enemy hands so easily - especially if it's booby trapped and has a dead man button or vitals monitor.

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    NexS

    ...Should we be worried?

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    jck

    buy more flash drives? lol

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    NexS

    To build a secret underground lair!

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    AnsuGisalas

    I plan to run my operation out of a shoe-shine stand right in front of the Pentagon.
    Or the presidential palace of Iran, depending on who pays my bills

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    AnsuGisalas

    I also don't think Al Qaeda is a Top-Down organization.
    They could never pull off what they did if they had to send specific orders to individual cells.
    I may be wrong, but since 9/11 I've been pretty sure that Al Qaeda is a cell breeder network - arranging training, providing intel sharing.
    Like a cancer tumor sending out metastasis nodules; the nodules are fire-and-forget (sort of... you still send them christmas cards, money, inspirational tapes on terrorist best practices, etc.) and are not controlled by the mother tumor.
    Dangerous.

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    dogknees

    Probably not!

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    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    you got me!

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    1 Votes
    seanferd

    But management just wouldn't let him go. He was supposed to be monitoring the database servers and doing backups mostly, but he would hang around the help desk department annoying this one woman. She filed a harassment report with HR, but that never went anywhere. A couple of others at the help desk took to peeing in his coffee, but he didn't seem to notice.

    Ask him to properly terminate an Ethernet cable (because they were never right the first time) or organize, label, and tie up the patch cables on a new piece of equipment, and he'd just give you this funny sideways look. And don't get me started on the time he was supposed to help with moving one of our datacenters to a new physical location.

    Overtime? Never missed it, but he still wouldn't do a damn thing.

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    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    He's managing to do an even better job from under three miles of ocean water - since he's done harassing...

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    seanferd

    Zombie bin Laden with mad IT skillz! Do not want!

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    robo_dev

    'Zombie bin laden'.

    Had never considered idea of terrorist-zombies before. I would suppose at least they would be easy to spot.

    Based on the amount of data that has been captured from the raid, it would appear that an effective business continuity plan was not in place. It would be logical to plan for the possibility of an armed assault on your residence if you are the most wanted man in the world.

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    boxfiddler Moderator

    about extreme zealotry...

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    seanferd

    when one is simply waiting for the will of god to provide it?

    (Not intended to be a factual statement.)

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    NickNielsen Moderator

    than we'd like to consider...

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    RayFoxxe

    I imagine that the IT office of Bin Laden's organization would go something like how the show The IT Crowd show the IT guys what sorts of **** and stupidity they put through! xD

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    jck

    ole Osama had enough tech to get a vast array of pron in his compound.

    Just saw a Fox News headline saying they found tons of it.

    Such a devout Muslim...wasn't he? B-)

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    JamesRL

    Do you recall the story a few years back about embedding messages into .jpgs? I wonder if thats what they really found.

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    jck

    And, I technically can't confirm or deny any personal knowledge on the subject. I was told not to. B-)

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    AV .

    Steganography. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography

    Probably _porn would be the perfect vehicle for that. It might be written off by most Western people as just a little something to kick start the engine.

    AV

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    robo_dev

    "Umm, agent Jones, here's a stack of porn. Go any study it for a week and tell us if you see any embedded data in it.... :)"

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    AnsuGisalas

    So to speak.

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    0 Votes
    NexS

    Embedding IMAGES into .jpegs....

    Now, THAT is a skill.

  • +
    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    I would bet that Al Qaeda distrusts computers and use them as little as possible.

    I would think they probably never connected to the internet from the compound, even from satellite phones, for fear that NSA pattern matching might flag a large amount of encrypted traffic originating in one place.

    Instead, I think they do things on laptops, and USB keys. Couriers take the USB keys and go to internet cafes in bigger cities many miles away, and send messages and files, probably encrypted with PGP. They would also use code words for operations and operatives, assuming that eventually some of the files would be intercepted. Dates would only be referred to obliquely.

    I do recall that some Al Qaeda laptops were captured during the initial invasion of Afghanistan.

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    Therefore a way to track terrorists is not to follow the money, but to see who buys a lot of flash drives. :)

    "The US assault force that killed bin Laden hauled away about five computers, 10 hard drives and more than 100 storage devices from his hideout in Pakistan, a US official said."

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    I think a demolitions expert disassembled them, just in case there'd be thermite surprises.

    Draconic security measures are hard to deal with... laptops are hard to lock up in a self-destruct vault - if you want to actually use them
    He should've gone for the Private Cloud - kept the data on a server in a self-destruct vault, and pull the data in and out of there using dumb terminals. Just have to make sure the dumb terminals flush their cache well enough.

    Good for the world he didn't, though.

    +
    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    From some organizations I know....

    At one place I dealt with, you turned in your laptops HD every day. If you had to take work home you got a special work away HD. All important files were on the server only, and the server was in a very secure location. The laptops were still encrypted, just because they could, and I guess in case someone wanted to comb the cache for cookies and other info. If you took work home it had to be loaded onto a secure portable device.

    And this wasn't a spy agency....

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    a Tax agency? Who else could be so draconic?
    But government agencies are often relatively inept, so maybe a company with a hardcore R&D component is more likely.
    After all, the secrets they keep ARE their bottom line.

    +
    0 Votes
    NexS

    That it is. 5 computers AND 10 hard drives, or does each computer have two hard drives? Maybe they were gettign their RAID on! Nothing worse than losing your terror gantt charts due to file corruption!

    What throws me is why they'd keep hundreds of 'storage devices' in one place...

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    Either they had external HDs, or someone in the SEALs has a very dept hand at removing HDs from desktops and servers. That's one IT guy you don't want to mess with

    As for all the memory sticks, they probably had a logistics bottleneck problem - one of the drawbacks of being hunted by half the world's intelligence agencies.
    So, on one hand they had to keep a stockpile, in case they have a few months of delivery failure, and on the other hand they might have had a pileup due to lack of outgoing couriers.

    Last thing is, they might have sent out the things in multiply redundant sets, each courier carrying the identical sets of sticks, so that if one guy drops, the package still gets there.
    The couriers probably carried the sticks inside their suicide charges, that way the evidence doesn't fall into enemy hands so easily - especially if it's booby trapped and has a dead man button or vitals monitor.

    +
    0 Votes
    NexS

    ...Should we be worried?

    +
    0 Votes
    jck

    buy more flash drives? lol

    +
    0 Votes
    NexS

    To build a secret underground lair!

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    I plan to run my operation out of a shoe-shine stand right in front of the Pentagon.
    Or the presidential palace of Iran, depending on who pays my bills

    +
    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    I also don't think Al Qaeda is a Top-Down organization.
    They could never pull off what they did if they had to send specific orders to individual cells.
    I may be wrong, but since 9/11 I've been pretty sure that Al Qaeda is a cell breeder network - arranging training, providing intel sharing.
    Like a cancer tumor sending out metastasis nodules; the nodules are fire-and-forget (sort of... you still send them christmas cards, money, inspirational tapes on terrorist best practices, etc.) and are not controlled by the mother tumor.
    Dangerous.

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    1 Votes
    dogknees

    Probably not!

    +
    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    you got me!

    +
    1 Votes
    seanferd

    But management just wouldn't let him go. He was supposed to be monitoring the database servers and doing backups mostly, but he would hang around the help desk department annoying this one woman. She filed a harassment report with HR, but that never went anywhere. A couple of others at the help desk took to peeing in his coffee, but he didn't seem to notice.

    Ask him to properly terminate an Ethernet cable (because they were never right the first time) or organize, label, and tie up the patch cables on a new piece of equipment, and he'd just give you this funny sideways look. And don't get me started on the time he was supposed to help with moving one of our datacenters to a new physical location.

    Overtime? Never missed it, but he still wouldn't do a damn thing.

    +
    1 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    He's managing to do an even better job from under three miles of ocean water - since he's done harassing...

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    Zombie bin Laden with mad IT skillz! Do not want!

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    'Zombie bin laden'.

    Had never considered idea of terrorist-zombies before. I would suppose at least they would be easy to spot.

    Based on the amount of data that has been captured from the raid, it would appear that an effective business continuity plan was not in place. It would be logical to plan for the possibility of an armed assault on your residence if you are the most wanted man in the world.

    +
    0 Votes
    boxfiddler Moderator

    about extreme zealotry...

    +
    0 Votes
    seanferd

    when one is simply waiting for the will of god to provide it?

    (Not intended to be a factual statement.)

    +
    0 Votes
    NickNielsen Moderator

    than we'd like to consider...

    +
    0 Votes
    RayFoxxe

    I imagine that the IT office of Bin Laden's organization would go something like how the show The IT Crowd show the IT guys what sorts of **** and stupidity they put through! xD

    +
    0 Votes
    jck

    ole Osama had enough tech to get a vast array of pron in his compound.

    Just saw a Fox News headline saying they found tons of it.

    Such a devout Muslim...wasn't he? B-)

    +
    0 Votes
    JamesRL

    Do you recall the story a few years back about embedding messages into .jpgs? I wonder if thats what they really found.

    +
    0 Votes
    jck

    And, I technically can't confirm or deny any personal knowledge on the subject. I was told not to. B-)

    +
    0 Votes
    AV .

    Steganography. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steganography

    Probably _porn would be the perfect vehicle for that. It might be written off by most Western people as just a little something to kick start the engine.

    AV

    +
    0 Votes
    robo_dev

    "Umm, agent Jones, here's a stack of porn. Go any study it for a week and tell us if you see any embedded data in it.... :)"

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    0 Votes
    AnsuGisalas

    So to speak.

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    0 Votes
    NexS

    Embedding IMAGES into .jpegs....

    Now, THAT is a skill.