June 29, 2005

When cryptography borders on schizophrenia

NBC reports that the elevated terror alert in December 2003 was due to the CIA deciding that there were coded messages in the "text crawl" on the Al-Jazeera TV news network. They used steganography, the science of finding secret messages that have been hidden in regular messages.

Of course, steganography has the major side-effect of having many, many false positives. You can easily convince yourself that you're seeing what you are looking for, as the CIA aptly proved. If you read or saw "A Beautiful Mind", or have talked to someone with someone who has one of the types of schizophrenia that involves hearing voices or seeing patterns that aren't there, you are already familiar with the phenomena.

The CIA appears to have so little internal balance that this kind of shoddy research could result in the government purposely trying to frighten the US populace, including grounding flights. This bodes poorly for finding actual security. Posted by lookit at June 29, 2005 08:26 AM