Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, French officials used metadata from a phone they found in a trashcan to gather information that made it possible to raid ISIS safe houses within a week. During these raids they were able to kill the suspected mastermind behind the operation, who was believed to be planning more attacks. Using a combination of cyber forensics and traditional police work, the French identified and successfully raided the purported hideout of the suspected ringleader. Considering our advanced technology, many are left questioning how this happened in the first place? And looking forward, can governments really prevent future acts of terrorism by building backdoors into encryption?
In this episode of Digital Detectives, Sharon Nelson and John Simek discuss the digital forensics of the Paris attacks and the aftermath, including a surfacing argument about cryptic communication, the response from French, British, and American governments, and how Anonymous, the hacker group, has gotten involved. Beginning with a chronology of events, Sharon walks through the events of last Friday. Citing a BBC article published after the Paris attacks, the hosts analyze how the investigation involved traditional and technological means to gather information about the armed attackers and their whereabouts. In addition to fingerprints and DNA, the investigators used witness video footage, mobile phone triangulation, wifi networks, and IP addresses to correlate intelligence and quickly move in on the suspects. John explains how a comment made by Belgium’s Interior Minister about PlayStation 4 network encryption was misinterpreted and carried away by news media, engaging governments in discussions about legislation that could allow encryption backdoors. Is encryption really the problem and is more government control the solution?
Stay until the end of the podcast to hear about Anonymous’s war on ISIS and the hypocritical nature of ISIS’s use of social media.