Russian Spies used Wi-Fi and Steganography

Some of the details are beginning to emerge about the 10 Russian spies that were captured in the US. According to an article on The Register, the spies communicated with Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi networks and hid messages in pictures using Steganography.

FBI agents monitored 28 year old Russian spy Anna Chapman as she communicated with a Russian government official. Anna would go to a book store and using her laptop, created an Ad-Hoc Wi-Fi connection to a Russian contact who was outside the store:

Surveillance agents nearby used “a commercially available tool that can detect the presence of wireless networks” to witness the creation of the ad hoc networks. NetStumbler is probably the most popular example of such software. Law enforcement agents were able to detect a particular MAC address – MAC address A – at the time that Chapman was observed powering on her laptop computer,” the complaint says. Law enforcement agents were also able to determine that the electronic device associated with MAC address A created the ad hoc network.”

The spies also embedded secret messages in pictures and uploaded them to sites where Russian officials retrieved them, and decoded the messages.

A New Jersey search uncovered a network of websites, from which the alleged spies had downloaded images. “These images appear wholly unremarkable to the naked eye,” the complaint explains. “But these images (and others) have been analyzed using the steganography program. As a result of this analysis, some of the images have been revealed as containing readable text files.”

It is interesting to see the tactics used by modern spies. Of course Russia is denying any and all involvement. Kudos to the FBI for taking them down.