Intelligence: June 9, 2004

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An Irish graduate student came up with one of those obvious solutions to a long time intelligence challenge. The United States, and other governments, sometimes release documents that have sensitive information blacked out. The solution to revealing what the blacked out material is turned out to be simple. First, you determine the font used in the document, and the font size. This gives you the number of letters in deleted words. Create a program to search an electronic dictionary for words that contain that many letters, then select the words that make sense. While the actually blocked out words are not discovered a hundred percent of the time, they are revealed over half the time. Some intelligence agencies may have already figured this out, but kept quiet lest they lose a good source of secret information.

 


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