Interesting article on a distributed computing project by the Secret Service. They're wisely attacking passwords instead of encryption keys.
In each case in which DNA is used, the Secret Service has plenty of "plaintext" or unencrypted data resident on the suspect's computer hard drive that can provide important clues to that person's password. When that data is fed into DNA, the system can create lists of words and phrases specific to the individual who owned the computer, lists that are used to try to crack the suspect's password. DNA can glean word lists from documents and e-mails on the suspect's PC, and can scour the suspect's Web browser cache and extract words from Web sites that the individual may have frequented.
"If we've got a suspect and we know from looking at his computer that he likes motorcycle Web sites, for example, we can pull words down off of those sites and create a unique dictionary of passwords of motorcycle terms," the Secret Service's Lewis said.
Picardi said he's even experimenting with a Big Brother bonus for unmarked police cars: a tiny microphone positioned near the windshield so powerful it can pick up conversations on the street.
"You could pull into a street corner and, if there's a drug deal going on a half-block away, you can hear what's going on. You could have all the windows shut and the air-conditioning on and you could hear everything going on outside the vehicle," Picardi said.
Ed Yohnka, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said he would be concerned if the police recorded those conversations without a warrant.
"It would raise serious questions under the Fourth Amendment and the Illinois eavesdropping law," Yohnka said.
Wow - not sure how I feel about this. The first thing that jumps to mind is there must be some mistakes regarding how "powerful" these microphones are. In theory, something like this could be done with a directional microphone, but it's not like you can just drive around and filter out all the other junk it would pick up. Second - this is just plain creepy. Police driving around with super hearing?