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Pentagon-funded researchers have come up with a new plan for busting leakers: Spot them by how they search, and then entice the secret-spillers with decoy documents that will give them away.
Computer scientists call it it “Fog Computing” — a play on today’s cloud computing craze. And in a recent paper for Darpa, the Pentagon’s premiere research arm, researchers say they’ve built “a prototype for automatically generating and distributing believable misinformation … and then tracking access and attempted misuse of it. We call this ‘disinformation technology.’”
The first goal of Fog Computing is to bury potentially valuable information in a pile of worthless data, making it harder for a leaker to figure out what to disclose.
The next step: Track those decoy docs as they cross the firewall. For that, Stolfo and his colleagues embed documents with covert beacons called “web bugs,” which can monitor users’ activities without their knowledge. They’re popular with online ad networks. “When rendered as HTML, a web bug triggers a server update which allows the sender to note when and where the web bug was viewed,” the researchers write. ”Typically they will be embedded in the HTML portion of an email message as a non-visible white on white image, but they have also been demonstrated in other forms such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint documents.”