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'Motherlode' of Data Seized At Bin Laden Compound 718

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-saw-an-unclelode-once dept.
itwbennett writes "The raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan Sunday also turned up an 'intelligence harvest' of computer-based data that was described by an anonymous government source as 'the motherlode of intelligence.' The data is being sifted through at a secret site in Afghanistan. An unnamed official was quoted by Politico as saying: 'Hundreds of people are going through it now. It's going to be great even if only 10 percent of it is actionable. They cleaned it out. Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?'"
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'Motherlode' of Data Seized At Bin Laden Compound

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  • Not necessarily a photoshop contest I'd want to see the results of, though.

  • My bet (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:34PM (#36014028)

    Goat porn

  • Lot and lots of it
  • by countertrolling (1585477) * on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:34PM (#36014034) Journal

    Lots of snuff films

  • I would imagine there is a lot of goat porn.
  • Truecrypt (Score:4, Insightful)

    by afidel (530433) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:36PM (#36014054)
    I would imagine a big old truecrypt partition, though perhaps he didn't encrypt things for some reason?
    • by bjdevil66 (583941)
      If he didn't encrypt his HDD and it burns terrorists everywhere, the smart terrorists in the future won't make the same mistake. This is probably a one-time "motherlode" of intel...
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:41PM (#36014152) Journal
        Suicide bombers rarely make the same mistakes twice.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by SnarfQuest (469614)

          You mean, like not handling daylight savings time correctly, thus blowing themselves up an hour early? (Yup, this did happen).

        • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mangu (126918) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:35PM (#36015012)

          Do you know why there are so few competent suicide bombers?

          Because only those who flunk their exams graduate from the training.

          • by HanClinto (621615)
            I know you're speaking in jest, but it's a bit more chilling to consider how many of them (such as the 9/11 suicide hijackers) had college degrees -- they were no flunkies.
            • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Shotgun (30919) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:22PM (#36015724)

              Either that, or it is a commentary on the value of a college degree.

              Just sayin'.

              • Re:Truecrypt (Score:4, Informative)

                by N0Man74 (1620447) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:05PM (#36016364)

                Either that, or it is a commentary on the value of a college degree.

                Just sayin'.

                People seem to think that suicide bombers are either idiots, complete nutjobs, or hate-filled extremists. I think the truth is more complicated than that.

                I've heard stories about how at least some these guys are recruited. It often involves deceit, manipulation and heavy cohesion. They end up getting mixed up with the wrong people (and it can start seemingly innocently and naively). By the end, they end up being threatened or blackmailed, and put in a position where they feel like if they don't do it, they may bring danger or shame to family and loved ones.

                I know it's no consolation to their victims, and by no means does it justify their actions, but some of these guys are victims too.

          • by blair1q (305137)

            The competent ones build the bombs and recruit the suicide bombers to act as mere mules.

            It's not cost-effective to train someone to select targets and build and arm bombs, and then blow them up.

      • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

        by tripleevenfall (1990004) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:50PM (#36014304)

        Hopefully (if it were encrypted and we cracked it), we would continue to put out statements in the media that we couldn't crack it...

        (while we were kicking doors at his safehouses and rounding up the remainder of his minions around the world)

        • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:06PM (#36014550)

          Hopefully (if it were encrypted and we cracked it), we would continue to put out statements in the media that we couldn't crack it...

          (while we were kicking doors at his safehouses and rounding up the remainder of his minions around the world)

          Agreed! Didn't we learn anything from the whole "we tracked him by his cell phone" braggadocio fiasco? STFU about your intel sources. Sheesh....

      • by khallow (566160)

        If he didn't encrypt his HDD and it burns terrorists everywhere

        Why use something which can be defeated with a $5 wrench [xkcd.com]?

        • by GreenTom (1352587)
          I think the $0.10 bullet made the $5 wrench unworkable.
    • Wikileaks (Score:5, Funny)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:42PM (#36014172)

      I would imagine a big old truecrypt partition, though perhaps he didn't encrypt things for some reason?

      Well I'm reading through the files from bin laden's drives that were posted on wikileaks an hour ago and it looks like they he used steganography based on goat porn.

    • by LWATCDR (28044)

      You assume that the NSA can not crack a Truecrypt partition. Also you assume that they thought that physical security would fail.

      • He further assumes that Truecrypt does not provide a backdoor to NSA for this in the first place.

        • He further assumes that Truecrypt does not provide a backdoor to NSA for this in the first place.

          Truecrypt is open source. No, I haven't looked at it myself, but it only takes one person to rat such a thing out. It's not probable that nobody has seen it yet, save the ones in on the conspiracy. Possible yes, but highly unlikely.

          • by dougmc (70836)

            Truecrypt is open source. No, I haven't looked at it myself, but it only takes one person to rat such a thing out.

            Encryption is hard. Really hard to do right.

            The NSA can hire the best. It's entirely possible that they (or some other comparable agency) hired somebody to inject a weakness into it's algorithms that would only be noticed in a code audit by somebody extremely skilled in the art. I'm not saying there's a backdoor such as "if you == NSA, decrypt everything!" but there may be something that greatly restricts the key combination that must be tested to crack it or something.

            If you're in a situation that the a

            • by LWATCDR (28044)

              You also assume that they didn't use a weak password. You would be shocked how many really smart people don't know the difference between a week and a strong password.
              Also I would bet that the NSA has at least the computing power of a Cray Jaguar or two or three to throw at this. With that much power anything but a very long and totally random string of characters would probably be too weak.

          • by igb (28052)
            For example, if someone modified the code to completely break the entropy generation in a widely used cryptography library in a major Linux distribution, with the effect that you only had to search 32768 possibilities in order break "4096 bit" cryptography, the benefit of open source is that it would be spotted immediately. No, wait... [formortals.com] One interpretation of that disaster is that people who were completely unqualified to work on crypto code made a stupid mistake. Another is that people who were most certa
    • Re:Truecrypt (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:08PM (#36014576)

      I would imagine a big old truecrypt partition, though perhaps he didn't encrypt things for some reason?

      The guy was 54 and the latter part of those years was spent in some pretty remote areas. I doubt he had much expertise in computer security. They probably relied much more on physical security, i.e. being to blow all their stuff up if the shit hit the fan (or their stuff going up in same bombing raid as them.)

      • by powerlord (28156)

        I would imagine a big old truecrypt partition, though perhaps he didn't encrypt things for some reason?

        The guy was 54 and the latter part of those years was spent in some pretty remote areas. I doubt he had much expertise in computer security. They probably relied much more on physical security, i.e. being to blow all their stuff up if the shit hit the fan (or their stuff going up in same bombing raid as them.)

        Not to mention, he escaped from the Afghan caves and has been successfully hiding from authorities for the better part of 6 years. That might have helped make him more careless in security matters ( such as "They couldn't catch me! Ha!" or "They missed me once, and haven't been able to find the backside of their own hands since my Pakistani colleagues have been feeding them shit for intelligence").

  • In all seriousness, how long until this finds it's way onto Wikileaks?

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:37PM (#36014088)

    ... he wasn't actively commanding his organization since going into hiding. However I would hope that his data contains names of most of the AQ leadership, so perhaps some new names will come to light. It would be nice if the location of his #2 was discovered and exploited.

  • by trifish (826353)

    "Can you imagine what's on Osama bin Laden's hard drive?"

    I would imagine properly encrypted... something?

    • Re:Umm (Score:5, Insightful)

      by chill (34294) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:43PM (#36014178) Journal

      Encryption only really works if you do it right, every time. Screw up only once, and you could leave enough crumbs to compromise it all.

      He's been holed up in that place for 6 years now, with no one even coming close. Time for him to get comfortable and slipshod. The odds of him not slipping up at all during that time are slim.

      Maybe it is all encrypted, or maybe there are enough clues left around to provide some real, useful information.

      Besides, the real question isn't what is on there. It is who in the various governments and industry are quaking in their boots thinking THEY may be on a list identifying them as supporters.

      • Did they remember to grab the sticky note with the 128 bit key written down?
        • So insightful.

          As I sit here looking at the note with mine I had to write after I was required to change my password about 5 times in 30 days and the last change entirely invalidated my existing secure scheme.

      • Re:Umm (Score:5, Funny)

        by The Grim Reefer2 (1195989) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:57PM (#36014408)

        Encryption only really works if you do it right, every time. Screw up only once, and you could leave enough crumbs to compromise it all.

        We're talking about the NSA getting this drive. So by doing it right you mean everything's encrypted and in the event of a raid the drive is melted with thermite, mixed with neodymium magnet dust, placed in a 5T magnetic field, stepped on by five elephants, mixed into bird food and fed to a flock of >100 migratory birds.

      • It could be a trap (Score:4, Interesting)

        by davidwr (791652) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:02PM (#36014456) Homepage Journal

        If he's smart he would've not only encrypted everything but most of the information would be intentionally misleading or low-value, making whoever got it not only have to work to decrypt it but to have sort out what's real and useful and what's not.

        • by Cytotoxic (245301) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:18PM (#36014746)

          If he had foresight and a sense of humor there's a bunch of emails from Bush and Cheney saying "Thanks old buddy, us boy's from Texas really appreciate all the help..."

        • by Americano (920576)

          Unfortunately, all of the bad and low-value data was in a Windows folder named "My Misleading Documents," making it pretty easy to separate the wheat from the chaff.

    • Re:Umm (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anrego (830717) * on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:00PM (#36014442)

      This is, this is just the kind of ultra important stuff where some is _actually_ going to use obscene amounts of processing power and analysis if required to get access to the data.

      Encryption is a deterant.. 99% of the time the effort required to break said encryption is out of imagination for the value of the data... in this rare case, all the resources of the US military and possibly even other governments are available for use. They'd analyse every IC in the machine and put entire server farms to work on it to get the key.. unless he was very good with his computing practices... they'd get their data.

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:40PM (#36014128)
    Nobody has a score that low on minesweeper...
  • by Vinegar Joe (998110) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:40PM (#36014134)

    Obama's real birth certificate?

  • by dasdrewid (653176) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:41PM (#36014142)

    He was on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list, right?

    Yeah, I'm going with porn [slashdot.org].

  • Though I understand that bin Laden was disappointed to find out that goatse didn't have anything to do with goat porn.

    Also, bin Laden's harddrive is said to contain every game released by SKIDR0W since 1998. He's big into hidden object and adventure puzzle games. Also Team Fortress 2. His handle was "donteatswine69".

    Something tells me that an upcoming episode of South Park will have more details regarding the raid on the bin Laden compound. Something else to look forward to.

    Seriously, though, I've got a

  • Angry Birds

  • by enaso1970 (759924) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:48PM (#36014260)
    In the end, sharing that Black Eyed Peas song came back to haunt him much more than leading a worldwide terrorist movement.
  • Disappear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by More Trouble (211162) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:48PM (#36014262)

    If I thought I'd appear in any of that data, I'd already have disappeared.

  • I'm guessing there are lots and lots of cells of Al Qaeda whose presence can be identified by the giant brown stains spreading across the floor.

    Certainly, OBL wasn't stupid - he'll have kept himself as cut-out as possible, against just this eventuality. Nevertheless, most intelligence is valuable when triangulated with other data, and oh man did we just gain a doozy of a viewpoint.

    The immediate targets this will provide may only be good for about 6 months before the value evaporates. The subsequent ripple

  • The guy has a 25 *million* dollar bounty on his head, he knows the worlds biggest military is hunting him 24/7, and he has large amounts of data near his person ?
    ?Whenever you hear or read of someone who is descrbing bin Ladin as the evil mastermind, you can take out the mind part....
    Or, as Smiley says, Moscow rules - you write on edible paper, one sheet of paper at a time on a glass surface, and always have a means of disposing of hte info should you be captured.
  • Did they find Stuxnet too?

  • by gfreeman (456642) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @02:55PM (#36014372)

    22 million email addresses in a file marked "sony.dat"

  • To the most exalted Emir of the al-Umma: Hope this report finds Your Caliphate in excellent health and kind disposition. Our Third Sher-e-Umma division has breached through the shores of Dover, England and we hope to annex it and bring the UK from dar-ul-haarb to dar-ul-islam in a few days, inshah allah. On the other side of the Atlantic the Zulficar-e-Islami army has conquered Alabama, Texas and Kentucky. We will soon be besieging the capital of the Great Satan next month. inshah allah.

    To reward the com

  • by Creepy (93888) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:11PM (#36014626) Journal

    Minor annoyance - his name is Osama - bin Laden is "from Laden," not really a last name, so it's like if you were George from New York and everyone called you New York all the time.

    • by jfengel (409917) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:25PM (#36014860) Homepage Journal

      "Bin Laden" is "of the Laden family". The "bin" is akin to the Hebrew "ben", "son of" (e.g. "Yeshua ben Yosef", "Jesus son of Joseph".) The Arab equivalent to "of" (in this context) is "al", e.g. Saddam Hussein al Tikriti, Saddam Hussein from Tikrit.

      As with other patronymics (e.g. the Scottish "Mac"), it's often used as a general family name, inherited for multiple generations. Osama bin Laden's father is Muhammad bin Laden. The original "Laden" is unknown, but goes back at least a century.

      So it's perfectly reasonable to call him "bin Laden". It's his family name, at least a few generations back. Confusion arises only as with every other family name, in that there are a lot of bin Ladens out there, and you'd have to use his full name to be clear. But using just his first name would be equivalent to referring to the Chancellor of Germany as "Angela" or the Prime Minister of the UK as "Gordon": it's their personal name, and rarely used alone in public discourse.

      You could use it that was as a deliberate insult of over familiarity. The New York Times took the unusual step of referring to him just as "bin Laden" rather than "Mr. bin Laden", which they reserve generally for the worst of the worst.

      • > ...or the Prime Minister of the UK as "Gordon"...

        Particularly odd, as the Prime Minister of the UK has been David Cameron for a year or so...

        • by jfengel (409917)

          Give me five minutes and then check Wikipedia.

          (Of all the stupid mistakes to make...)

      • by Shrike82 (1471633)

        But using just his first name would be equivalent to referring to the ... Prime Minister of the UK as "Gordon":

        That'd be even worse since his name is David.

    • by plopez (54068)

      Like "Manfred von Richthofen" being called "von Richthofen"?

  • by MarkvW (1037596) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:15PM (#36014690)

    A selfish man who had others die for him is not likely to be overmuch careful about protecting the people who remain alive after he is dead.

    I bet he was really sloppy and undisciplined.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Que914 (1042204)

      A selfish man who had others die for him

      That's kind of a trite and glib statement, and one we've heard a lot. When I was in the military I heard people say quite often "If Osama thinks strapping a bomb to your chest to kill infidels is such a good idea, why doesn't he do it?" The answer to that is simply, the same reason George W. Bush didn't grab an M-16 and head to Fallujah.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        the same reason George W. Bush didn't grab an M-16 and head to Fallujah.

        He got an exemption thanks to his dad?

        Oh wait, wrong war.

  • by dtjohnson (102237) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @03:36PM (#36015034)

    Osama Bin Laden's organization needed a LOT of money to keep going. Money to pay for food and housing for all of the thousands of followers who are not actually working or doing anything useful. Money for travel, equipment, supplies, bribes, etc. Those hard drives will probably show exactly WHO was supporting these terrorists. Which banks were laundering money money donations to make it available to Osama Bin Laden? Maybe JPMorgan Chase was Osama's banker like they were Bernie Madoff's banker. Who was issuing them credit cards? Which foreign governments were enabling them to travel by issuing passports, visas, and other documents? The Osama Bin Laden people were very sophisticated in how they approached their terrorist activities...that was OBL's 'innovation'...and now it may all come unraveled. There are plenty of young men with rifles running around the Afghanistan hills who hate the West...or what little they know of it...but that does not make them into terrorists capable of carrying out a sophisticated act of terror in another country. That OBL data may help ID a few new faces but mostly it will be the leads to the money trail that will bring the global terror activities to an end.

    • Osama Bin Laden's organization needed a LOT of money to keep going.

      Not really. The 9/11 attack only cost about $200,000 to execute. Al-Queda was never that big. In recent years it's been more of a loose coordinating group for various militant factions. In its best years, Al-Queda raised maybe $30 million [unt.edu]. That decreased as the US found ways to cut off its funding sources.

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