Law Enforcement Wiretaps: Background and Vulnerabilities

Presented at HOPE Number Six (2006), July 22, 2006, 9 p.m. (60 minutes)

The politics of wiretapping is a hot topic (again) lately. But how do the police actually tap telephones anyway? How might tapping technology fail? Telephone wiretap and dialed number recording systems are used by law enforcement and national security agencies to collect critical investigative intelligence and legal evidence. This talk will examine the technology of (legal) wiretapping and show how many of these systems are vulnerable to simple, unilateral countermeasures that allow wiretap targets to prevent their call audio from being recorded and/or cause false or inaccurate dialed digits and call activity to be logged. An exploration of possible workarounds, as well as the broader implications of the security vulnerabilities in evidence collection systems.

Presenters:

  • Matt Blaze
    Matt Blaze is an associate professor of computer and information sciences and director of the Trusted Network Eavesdropping and Countermeasures project at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include secure systems, cryptology and cryptographic protocols, and large-scale systems.
  • Sandy Clark / Mouse as Sandy Clark
    Sandy Clark is a visiting scholar in the Distributed Systems Lab at the University of Pennsylvania and a computing systems manager at Princeton University. Her research interests include human scale and network security along with privacy and risk evaluation.
  • Eric Cronin
    Eric Cronin is a Ph.D. candidate in computer and information sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include network security, privacy, and distributed systems.
  • Micah Sherr
    Micah Sherr is a Ph.D. candidate in computer and information sciences at the University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include network security, protocol design and analysis, network intrusion detection and prevention, and privacy and data confidentiality.

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