Intelligence: July 23, 2003


Captured laptop computers have proved to be an intelligence bonanza. Al Qaeda, Iraqi and Taliban computer users have not, so far, demonstrated much knowledge about how to protect the data on their computer hard drives. Some have used encryption on their sensitive files, but none have used any encryption so high powered that American code breakers could not crack it. Another protective method is to rig the hard drive with a password system that will erase the hard drive if the right password is not entered. That merely slows investigators down, as "erased" data (or most of it) can be recovered. However, some erasing systems will "scrub" the hard drive, but the erasing process can be stopped by cutting the power and removing the battery. There's also a legal problem in that prosecutor has to prove that the data on the hard drive was not altered. The solution to many of these problems is the use of a special equipment to copy the hard drive data to another hard drive. The most popular devices are by Logicube, and this equipment allow you to duplicate a hard drive without activating the operating system on it, or altering the drive in any way. The FBI has been using this technology successfully for several years, and now military intelligence are using it as well when they capture enemy computers. 


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