Center for Strategic Communication

Picking up on a MEMRI dispatch, Computerworld ran a story on a software package designed to help al Qaeda operatives put strong encryption on their files and messages sent over the Internet.

The new encryption tool is called Mujahideen Secrets 2 and appears to be an updated version of easier-to-crack software that was released early last year, said Paul Henry, vice president of technology evangelism at Secure Computing Corp. in San Jose.

Douglas Farah frets that this means the Bad Guys “have the technological wherewithal to take their communications to the next level.”

But in fact this “next level” has been freely available on the Web for years. PGP offers 1024 bit encryption, the same level speculated upon for the Mujahideen Secrets 2 platform. PGP has been described as the “closest you’re likely to get” to military grade encryption, and Wikipedia concludes that “To the best of publicly available information, there is no known method which will allow a person or group to break PGP encryption by cryptographic, or computational means.”

Well maybe, but it wouldn’t surprise me too much to learn that our personnel at Fort Meade have found a way to get around it. It would surprise me to learn that the Bad Guys have made some kind of fundamental innovation in cryptography.

The point is that this software isn’t really doing anything new, so its announcement is more notable as a PSYOP than as a sign of some new technological threat.