Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
IBM Patents

IBM Seeks Patent On Digital Witch Hunts 136

Posted by Soulskill
from the everyone-sees-a-unique-version-of-this-story dept.
theodp writes "Should Mark Zuckerberg want to identify a snitching Facebook employee, Elon Musk wish to set a trap for loose-lipped Tesla employees, or Steve Jobs want to 'play Asteroid,' they'll be happy to know that a new IBM 'invention' makes it easier than ever to be paranoid. In a newly-disclosed patent application for Embedding a Unique Serial Number into the Content of an Email for Tracking Information Dispersion (phew!), Big Blue describes how it's automated the creation of Canary Traps with patent-pending software that makes ever-so-slight changes to e-mail wording to allow you to spy on the unsuspecting recipients of your e-mail."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

IBM Seeks Patent On Digital Witch Hunts

Comments Filter:
  • Not new (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:15PM (#28814863)
    My girlfriend works in the bid and proposal department at Oshkosh Corps. They regularly deal with top secret government contracts for armored vehicles. Each persons copy of whatever paperwork has different sets of typos, so if there are any leaks, they know exactly who it came from.

    And yes, they have caught corporate spies with this before.
  • Re:What an advance! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Threni (635302) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:43PM (#28815039)

    To be honest I assumed this sort of thing was already being done. It's just fingerprinting, using whatever medium is being used.

  • Re:Wrong (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mouseblue (1602125) on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:47PM (#28815061)
    Let me clarify: The ideal workaround is to get a very close translation (small error rate) and reverse the process so that the errors build up.

    I took your quote on Babel Fish and ran it back to English to get this:

    "All point of technology is to encode consecutive numbering by doing the little modification to wording of message. Reading those words to another medium still maintains the hand harsh number."

    It's a terrible translation example but if you used a professional translator, you'd still have transformations from syntax and sentence structure from each language.
  • Lots of prior art. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <.jcr. .at. .mac.com.> on Friday July 24, 2009 @08:52PM (#28815095) Journal

    Spy agencies have been doing this kind of thing for decades. Slightly altering the wording in documents so that the individual recipient is traceable. They used to have a major problem with classified material being leaked to the press by congressional staffers.

    -jcr

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:05PM (#28815189)

    Once upon a time I had a boss who enlisted my help to install the camera system with which she could spy on me (although that wasn't its main purpose, supposedly).

  • by mouseblue (1602125) on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:06PM (#28815193)
    I agree, it doesn't seem very patent worthy.
    It's Digital Watermarking [wikipedia.org] with a software thesaurus/dictionary.

    The movie industry used digital watermarks for VHS trailer tapes. http://www.afterdawn.com/news/archive/4616.cfm [afterdawn.com]

    Trent Reznor used an alternate strategy for one of his short films (from 1992?):

    "...a few people who received the movie as a special gift. Each version given away was missing a different section of video, thus enabling Reznor to keep track of those who betrayed him."

    http://www.toplessrobot.com/2008/08/the_10_most_amazing_unreleased_things_ever_made.php [toplessrobot.com]

  • by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Friday July 24, 2009 @09:12PM (#28815235) Journal

    Spy agencies have been doing this kind of thing for decades. ... They used to have a major problem with classified material being leaked to the press by congressional staffers.

    Now you know why "Deep Throat" was so cagey, vague, and just pointed Woodward and Bernstein to the right lines of investigation and insisted they hunt down other sources and confirmation, rather than letting them use him as an unnamed direct source.

  • Re:Not new (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 24, 2009 @10:01PM (#28815473)

    Once you have a TS clearance you are trusted until there are signs present that indicate a review thereof might be necessary - at least this is how it worked in my part of the world anyway.

    Or at least, that's what they wanted you to think.

    But anyway, is it accurate to call it a witch hunt when the "witches" are real? I thought the whole point was that there were no actual witches.

  • by Slartibartfast (3395) <<ken> <at> <jots.org>> on Saturday July 25, 2009 @03:14AM (#28816687) Homepage Journal

    Tom Clancy beat this drum -- almost tiresomely -- in several of his books back in the 90's. Our Fearless Protagonist, Jack Ryan, even came up with the algorithm, the name of which currently escapes me. Granted, the algorithm is never actually explained, but its output is identical to what this patent proposes, so methinks this probably isn't worthy of a patent.

    Just my two cents, of course.

    -Slarty

"A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices." -- William James

Working...