Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter

March 31, 2010

Terrorist Communications

Filed under: CyberKill — Frank Fiore @ 9:52 AM

Newly-created email accounts, web blogs and even domestic chat rooms are being “strictly monitored” by security agencies as potential communication channels for terrorists. Email scanning, especially for ‘ghost accounts’ – ones that are rarely used – and newly-made addresses, is now underway, sources told Daily Times on Wednesday.

But there are other forms of hidden communications that terrorists use that are almost impossible to detect.

Another form of hidden messaging is steganography. The cyber-terrorists in CyberKill use steganography to send hidden messages over the Internet. Unlike encryption, steganography cannot be detected easily.

Here’s a clip from CyberKill that explains the process.

At a corner Starbucks in downtown D.C., Alpha Mae was sipping her Arabian Mocha Java with two shots of espresso as she waited for Yi to arrive. She looked impatiently at her cell phone, observing the time and wondering why Yi didn’t call if he was going to be late.

Alpha Mae wasn’t her real name, of course. It was the nom de plume she used as a trusted follower of Dorian. The ‘Alpha’ designation stood for her position in the cell — Alpha female. There was a comparable word in the canine kingdom for an alpha female, but no one in the cell would risk calling her that, though the description would fit her perfectly. She earned the position of cell leader through her knowledge, skill and her courage — and devotion to Dorian.

Now, where was Yi?

She was about to call him when he came walking through the door, his laptop slung from his shoulder. He spotted her and hurried over.

“Where were you?” she asked. “I said eight o’clock.”

“I left my laptop back at the apartment,” he said sheepishly. “Made it almost here, then had to turn around and go back and get it.”


“Now we’re behind. Start that thing up.”

Yi did as he was told, clearly intimidated by Mae, firing up his computer and connecting to the cafe’s wireless service. Once done, he slid the laptop over to Alpha Mae, who opened her newsgroup reader, typed in a keyword, and found what she was looking for.

She scanned the latest postings in the newsgroup looking, in particular, for a posting by ‘grays_portrait’ and its attached graphics file. She found it soon enough and started downloading it. Once that was done, she ran it through a specially designed imaging program that searched for and displayed the steganography file contained within, which Dorian used to secretly communicate with his cell members.

Alpha Mae knew that unlike encryption, steganography cannot be detected easily, making it an effective form of sending undetectable messages. And porn newsgroups are ideal for this purpose, which is what Dorian used. Such newsgroups are filled with images that can change multiple times each day without raising suspicion. Using steganographic techniques, the Digitari Brotherhood members can retrieve messages from their home base and send back updates, all in the guise of porn trading. And tracking or finding these files by authorities can be an almost impossible task — akin to searching for the proverbial needle in the World Wide Web.

Soon, the downloaded image appeared on the screen. A picture of a young woman bending over a man’s lap, her skirt over her hips exposing her plump bottom.

Yi chortled standing over her shoulder, then whistled. “Didn’t think you were the kinky type. She turned and stared at him until he shrank away and sat down.


Next, she typed in a few commands to the program she initiated and the pixels of the offending picture slowly transformed into a text message. A message written entirely in Korean.

“It’s from Dorian,” she said, reading. “Phase One is complete. He has compromised the target. We are to start on Phase Two.”


1 Comment »

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Frank Fiore. Frank Fiore said: Terrorist Communications-There R forms of hidden communications that terrorists use that R impossible to detect […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention Terrorist Communications « Frank Fiore – Novelist & Screenwriter -- — April 2, 2010 @ 2:52 PM | Reply

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