Intelligence: Well Meaning Hackers Aid Terrorists


July 30, 2006: Well meaning hackers, trying to provide tools that enable Chinese Internet users to get around government censorship (the "Great Firewall of China") have created an encrypted instant messaging system ( ScatterChat) for non-techies. It's being made available in Chinese, Farsi (Iranian) and Arabic versions. It also contains a "perfect forward secrecy" feature, which means the only way to decrypt old messages is by having the keys used by the sender and receiver. ScatterChat also enables encrypted file transfers. Like many other commercial encryption tools, ScatterChat can be used by terrorists and other types of criminals. But in actuality, the criminals usually can afford more expensive stuff, while most Islamic terrorists are poor and ignorant. These guys can handle ScatterChat, and they probably will. In theory, ScatterChat could have a "trap door" for intelligence agencies, but this is unlikely, as dictators could get it, and make ScatterChat worthless. The American decryption experts at NSA might have tools to quickly crack ScatterChat, but that effort often takes more time than is available. No good deed goes unexploited by the bad guys.


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