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Feds Plan 'Fog of Disinformation' To Track Information Leaks 263

Posted by timothy
from the surely-this-is-a-very-old-technique dept.
skipkent tips a story at Wired's Danger Room, according to which "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 'Fog Computing' — a play on today's cloud computing craze. And in a recent paper for Darpa, the Pentagon's premiere research arm, researchers say they've built 'a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this "disinformation technology."'"
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Feds Plan 'Fog of Disinformation' To Track Information Leaks

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  • aka... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:23PM (#40556461)

    Counterintelligence. Same game, new enemy. It worries me when the enemies start to become ourselves. It may be foreshadowing what's to come.

  • by Gunfighter (1944) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:24PM (#40556481) Homepage

    With the discombobulated nature of the believable information and misinformation, who will be tracking the differences to make sure an intelligence report doesn't result in a military course of action against a non-existent foe (or something similar)?

    Translation: What could possibly go wrong?

  • by harvey the nerd (582806) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:25PM (#40556493)
    The bottom line is that you can't believe *anything* any government official says.
  • by TorrentFox (1046862) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:26PM (#40556507)

    Is it still right to punish those who in good faith believe there is a pressing need to leak certain information? Entrapment aside, this really will have the most damaging chilling effect yet known in the information age. First no whistleblower protection for gov. employees, and now an active campaign to make sure fucked people stay fucked. Proud to be an American!

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:26PM (#40556517) Homepage Journal
    Stop doing shit you don't want the People to know about.

    Cue the state-owned lapdogs prattling on about the dangers of military secrets becoming public knowledge, in spite of the fact that all the fallout from leaked documents thus far has been political, and in no way put any of our troops at risk.
  • As a taxpayer... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lendrick (314723) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:28PM (#40556555) Homepage Journal

    Deliberately creating and circulating misniformation seems like an unethical use of my tax money, much like propaganda campaigns.

  • by Kaenneth (82978) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:35PM (#40556669) Homepage Journal

    Iraq?

  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:38PM (#40556715) Journal

    Yes, it is right - for those who sign a contract saying that they will go to jail if they reveal a given secret, it is right for them to go to jail if they then reveal that secret. It really is that simple.

    This isn't about "whistleblowers", who see non-secret but embarassing imformation about their employers and reveal that in a damaging way. This is about state secrets. And history shows: if your government can't keep any secrets, it will be replaced by one that can (often quite violently replaced). Just as you may regret the need for national defense, you'll end up with a government that has some, one way or another.

    We're a democracy. We have oversight of state secrets by our elected leaders, and good ones will legally "out" secrets they don't think should be secret (this happened quite recently, with a congressman reading into the congressional record a court-sealed document related to Fast and Furious). Yes, the system has flaws, all systems do, but it's certainly a workable one.

  • "and in no way put any of our troops at risk."

    false.
    Of course you seem to think there is no association of the troops from politics. When documents where released that showed the US's role in maintaining peace in the mid-east, it put several countries into a corner and forced their hand.; which led to an extending campaign in which soldiers died.

    Some documents should remain hidden.
    Should we publish the data on when we move missiles? which truck is the decoy?

    Does this mean all documents should be classified? no.
    Only that there are real needs for classification.
    What needs to be classified is a matter of policy and debate.

  • Re:Better yet. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:47PM (#40556875)

    All they really need is to alter a few words in sentences depending on who is accessing the document.

    What you're talking about is a simple form of watermarking. What they're talking about, since they're calling it "disinformation", is much more than that.

    Now only the 4-star generals will know which spy plane blueprints are real, and which diplomatic cables are true, so no information will be actionable until it first gets reviewed and validated by a 4-star general first.

  • Re:aka... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AlphaWolf_HK (692722) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @04:51PM (#40556917)

    I figure it would send a message to the leakers. That is, be careful what you leak, we may just find you.

  • by dark12222000 (1076451) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:02PM (#40557047)
    Funny enough you mention that they are bound by Contract.

    You see, in all of these contracts (and usually verbatim in government contracts), the duty of the secret keeper is forfeit if the information contained is either illegal, or (in America) goes against "the will" of the people.

    In another words, if you bind me via contract to not disclose that you're going to nuke New York, and I tell someone, then I have *not* violated my contract (either the contract is invalid in the first place as it violates established law, or my duty to the law/my fellow citizens surpasses my contracted duty).

    In these cases, most of these people ARE whistleblowers. The information they release has been released because the whistleblower feels it either violates established law or that it goes against the will of the people.
  • Re:aka... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:02PM (#40557053)

    Meh. Just be sure to grab someone elses copy and leak that. They;ll trace it back to the other person, not you.

  • Re:Better yet. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by capnchicken (664317) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:08PM (#40557121)

    That sounds scalable. /sarcasm

    The big thing all these leaks really proves is that there are too many secrets and the US govt's clearance and need to know mechanisms are wholly broken. Some info really does need to be secret, but instead of vetting everything its just way easier to sweep it all under the its a secret rug and call it a day.

    Just another pentagon project to treat the symptoms and totally disregard the main cause.

  • by F69631 (2421974) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:30PM (#40557379)

    They might be sending message to the wider public: "Oh, you saw documents that state we are up to something really evil? Well... you can't know whether they're accurate or planted by us. If you were certain they were accurate, you might be willing to risk it all to do the right thing but now that you aren't certain... Do you feel lucky?"

    The point of censorship is never to prevent access to information by a few dedicated people. It is to allow the masses - who want to feel like good people - a way to shield themselves from everything evil the government does so they have a way to rationalize to themselves why they don't do what they know to be the right thing. This is exactly that.

  • by lgw (121541) on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:36PM (#40557449) Journal

    In another words, if you bind me via contract to not disclose that you're going to nuke New York, and I tell someone, then I have *not* violated my contract (either the contract is invalid in the first place as it violates established law, or my duty to the law/my fellow citizens surpasses my contracted duty).

    Your sense of the importance of the information you wish to leak does not give you the legal right to leak it - in a very practical sense, you rarely have the context to be certain of such things, unless you're very senior in which case you will some legal avenue to bring the information to the attention of the right people. Now, if you really feel your sense of duty is more important than the law, leak away, and go to jail morally righteous. If enough people in out democracy agree with your judgement, someone will pardon you.

    whistleblower feels it either violates established law or that it goes against the will of the people.

    I'm sorry, but what the whistleblower "feels" goes against the "will of the people" is so much bullshit. There are elected leaders whose actual job is to judge that, and who have legal oversight over secret programs, and who represent the will of the people as best humanity can figure out how to make that happen. Those congresscritters have legal ways to fix these problems.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday July 05, 2012 @05:40PM (#40557491)

    The brilliance of it is you don't have to actually create fake documents. Any time something gets leaked, claim it as fake and point back to this announcement. Claim the program is a huge success.

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