The Cyber Trails of San Bernadino

by edwardmroche

There continues to be a buzz in the international media and throughout the national security establishment.  How is the Internet being used for recruitment of terrorists?  If it is being used for this, then should it be “shut down”.  Current presidential candidate Donald Trump keeps making the point in his stump speeches.  “We [meaning the United States] invented the Internet, but now they are using it better than us.  They are using it for recruiting of new members”, referring to the online activities of the genocidal group Daeush.

Today it was reported that the FBI is sending underwater divers into a lake near the home of the San Bernadino terrorist criminals.  The purpose?  To locate disk drives and other cyber evidence that had been ostensibly destroyed by the murderers prior to their machine gun attack against people with disabilities.

Reports also indicate that attempts were made to destroy all of their electronic technology, including computers and mobile phones. The criminals knew that after they had been killed as a result of their murderous activities, the investigators would do a complete “cyber investigation” to determine the social system in which they were operating.  An attempt would be made to find all persons who are in a one-degree or two-degree relationship with the murderers.

In particular, there is the issue of trying to discover what other contacts this ilk had, and whether or not it links to the genocidal criminals operating overseas.

What is the implication here?  First, these international religiously motivated criminals and murderers have gone through a learning curve.  They know that the cyber world follows them everywhere they go, and consequently, they wish at all times to remain “under the radar”.  They do not wish to be noticed, and in case something happens, they do not wish for anyone to be able to follow their cyber links to others in their group.

So they destroy the cyber evidence found in their electronic Internet-enabled equipment.

Thank goodness for meta-data, and for record-keeping, and for the pen-trap statutes.  Using this information that is stored by vendors of information technology and telecommunications services, combined with traditional information such as phone records and financial records, it should be possible to piece together the Living System that supported these criminals.

Implications for a cyber convention

What is the implication for a cyber convention?

One of the key elements of any new convention must be the obligation of each nation state to assist in cyber crime investigations.  The concept of “cyber crime” would include international terrorism.

How this cooperation might take place would vary according to the type of problem, and the type of technology involved.  It might mean, for example, that security and intelligence agencies world-wide would be obligated to help each other in sharing of cyber-based information on criminals operating in cyber space.  (See the Interpol announcement.)

Since there is little or no cooperation between nations at this time, although it is increasing, the formalization of this type of mutual assistance in the form of a part of an international convention would be a giant leap forward.