Case Study

London, England

The intelligence officers had had problems with this one. He seemed to be smarter than the average terrorist/freedom fighter, and this made them even more anxious to find out what he was doing. Since they began tracking him, he had shown an annoying resilience to their normal technical information collection techniques. His house was always occupied, thwarting any attempts to plant a listening device. He used some form of encryption on his mobile and fixed-line telephones. And he was using strong encryption on his email that was giving DSTL1 a headache. He was even using disruptors on his windows, rendering the latest and best in laser microphones ineffective—little better than listening to static on the radio.

SIGnals INTelligence (SigInt), however, had shown a marked increase in communication over the last few days, bringing with it the fear that London was in for another spate of bombings. It was time to get a little more inventive.

MI52 had managed to obtain, at the taxpayers' expense, a house a few doors down on the opposite side of the road. Not long after procuring the house, a delivery van pulled up and delivered several boxes that appeared to contain a rather nice flat-screen TV and surround-sound system. The sign painted on the side of the van even promised free installation service. The delivering technician locked the van and entered the house.

In an upstairs room with the blinds still drawn, he quickly unpacked all the equipment from the multitude of boxes. As soon as the assembly was completed, he called the other surveillance officers into the room.

He powered up the equipment, and the displays sprang to life, one flashing numbers and graphs in true Hollywood fashion; the other, however, displayed static.

"Wow, impressive... I wish we'd thought of that sooner."

"Drop the sarcasm and wait; it needs to tune in. Haven't you ever heard of Van Eck phreaking?"

And sure enough, the static slowly resolved into an image. It showed a desktop, with several windows open. In one, an email was clearly being typed, letter by letter. In frontof their eyes, the information they had been seeking slowly materialized.

"...we will strike, showing that they are not invulnerable in their city of vice and corruption. The tools should be collected from the maker in the car park at Didcot Parkway Station, before making their way to the assigned targets in London. Tomorrow, the world will know that we are great and cannot be stopped, and then they will bow to our demands for the release of our wrongfully imprisoned brothers... "

"Get Thames Valley3 on the phone, we've got 'em..."

1 DSTL stands for Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, a British government organization that deals with things like decrypting hard disks, cracking codes, and other forensic activities, both in the digital and real world.

2 MI5 stands for Military Intelligence Section 5. This name hasn't actually been used for over 50 years now; it is currently called The Security Service, but MI5 sounds better, so it is still in common usage.

3 Thames Valley is the Thames Valley Police, where the famous Inspector Morse used to work.

For a long time, we've known there are only four ways to observe or influence anything. In the OSSTMM, these are classified as induction, inquest, interaction, and intervention. Most commonly, the trigger testing properties of interaction are used: If I poke it, what happens?

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