2011-11-08 DARPA, decoys and diplomatics

“Under this plan, the decoy docs would undermine hackers’ trust in the integrity of data, make them question whether releasing it in the public domain would be worth it, and force WikiLeakers to do more work verifying their authenticity.” - Dawn Lim, ‘Darpa’s Plan to Trap the Next WikiLeaker: Decoy Documents’ Wired, November 4, 2011.

The recent revelations of work by DARPA to plant fake documents in official systems to put off or trick potential whistleblowers and the publishers who work with them is the latest in the US Government’s series of reactions to the work of WikiLeaks, including the recent issue of an Executive Order tightening procedures around the classification of government information, enabling administrators to quickly remove suspected whistleblowers from duty and establishing an Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives and Records Administration with powers to monitor and enforce the Executive Order’s directives.

There are a number of tactics at work with the DARPA proposal: the identification and monitoring of anyone who accesses the decoy documents, the planting of seeds of uncertainty in the minds of potential whistleblowers as to the authenticity of the documents, and making it more difficult for a publisher to feel confident about the release of the leaked documents while increasing the efforts they need to go to to verify the documents’ authenticity.

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