An anonymous reader writes from an article on Ars Technica: New details of the Paris attacks carried out last November reveal that it was the consistent use of prepaid burner phones, not encryption, that helped keep the terrorists off the radar of the intelligence services. As an article in The New York Times reports: "the three teams in Paris were comparatively disciplined. They used only new phones that they would then discard, including several activated minutes before the attacks, or phones seized from their victims." The article goes on to give more details of how some phones were used only very briefly in the hours leading up to the attacks. "Everywhere they went, the attackers left behind their throwaway phones, including in Bobigny, at a villa rented in the name of Ibrahim Abdeslam. When the brigade charged with sweeping the location arrived, it found two unused cellphones still inside their boxes." At another location used by one of the terrorists, the police found dozens of unused burner phones "still in their wrappers." As The New York Times says, one of the most striking aspects of the phones is that not a single e-mail or online chat message from the attackers was found on them. But rather than trying to avoid discovery by using encryption -- which would in itself have drawn attention to their accounts -- they seem to have stopped using the internet as a communication channel altogether, and turned to standard cellular network calls on burner phones.
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