technology podcast #327

Digital Forensics and Osama Bin Laden

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Download MP3 (33:32)Last week’s Navy Seal raid on Osama Bin Laden’s hide-out in Pakistan resulted in more than just the death of the most wanted terrorist in the world. The Seal team also collected computer hard drives, disks and other digital material that contain, according to one Obama administration official, “a motherlode of intelligence.” That got us here at WTP wondering, though, about how digital forensics experts go about getting information off of hard drives, especially if that material has been deleted, or is encrypted. Luckily, the BBC’s Chris Vallance was wondering the same thing, and so he went along to get some answers from a British company called disklabs.

We’ve got a number of other interesting items on the Osama Bin Laden raid in this episode as well. We’ll tell you about the Pakistani IT professional who, unknowingly, live-tweeted the night-time assault on the bin Laden compound in Abbottabad. Also, we’ll talk with Scientific American editor Christine Gorman about the DNA testing and facial recognition methods that were probably used to positively identify Bin Laden after the raid. And finally, you’ll hear from Thomas Gillespie, a UCLA geographer who for the past few years has been trying to apply his methods for tracking fauna. Two years ago, Gillespie and his class on remote sensing predicted the kind of place Bin Laden was likely hiding. They didn’t pinpoint Abbottabad, but they came pretty close. Gillespie, by the way, is answering your questions right now over in our World Science Forum, so stop by and join the conversation.

Also in this episode, we’ll hear about the kinds of technologies that might replace black box cockpit voice and flight data recorders. And we’ll take a step back in time, about 70 years, and revisit the moment when the Royal Navy boarded U-Boat 110 and discovered the Enigma Machine. Come crack some code with us as we take you on a tour of a new exhibit at Britain’s former code-cracking headquarters, Bletchley Park.

And finally, listener Chris Laurie in Scotland insisted that we mention that SETI, the group who has been scanning the skies for alien communications, has been forced to shut down its telescopes due to budget cuts. You’ll hear an interview with Dr. Seth Shostak of SETI.

Remember, you can follow WTP on Twitter and Facebook.

(Photo: Matthew Field)

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 10th, 2011 at 5:57 AM and is filed under Technology Podcast. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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