Encryption seems to have played little to no part in the Paris attacks

terrorists burner phones paris attack
Josep Suria/123rf
It was a very concerted effort that led to the Paris terrorist attacks last November. That much we already knew. What we didn’t know, up until the release of a 55-page report compiled by the French anti-terrorism police for France’s Interior Ministry, was the extent to which the terrorists used burner phones in order to avoid detection, reports The New York Times.

According to the report, the terrorists used either new phones or phones that were taken from their victims in order to communicate with each other. And the terrorists discarded all of them, with one assailant activating a phone less than an hour before he carried out a suicide attack.

The investigation of the terrorists’ movements revealed the repeated use of burner phones, with dozen of such phones discovered unused. This is where things get interesting, however, as among all the burner phones, there wasn’t a single e-mail or online chat message found. In other words, the assailants seemed to have known such communication venues would be monitored by intelligence agencies, and this appeared to lead them to rely on regular cellular network calls instead of encryption.

This information seems to show how effective the use of burner phones still is. The report as a result has the potential to undermine the argument that encryption creates an environment for terrorists to freely communicate with each other, the same argument currently used by the FBI and other agencies.

There was an instance when a woman saw what she believed to be “a bunch of lines, like lines of code” from a terrorist’s computer, which would coincide with ISIS’ claim of encryption use during the Paris attacks. However, the woman saw that when the computer was first booting up, which would likely indicate that it was just a verbose boot, or a boot that lets the user see the code output when your computer boots up.

Although last December, investigators believed that they had found encrypted apps used by the terrorists to hide their attack plotting, that was when the investigation was still nascent. The final 55-page report now appears to show that encryption had a small to nonexistent role in the Paris attacks.

Mobile

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Social Media

Addicted to Instagram? Its new ‘activity dashboard’ is here to help

Ever get that nagging feeling you're spending too much time on Instagram? Well, a new "activity dashboard" has a bunch of features designed to help you better control how you use the addictive photo-sharing app.
Mobile

No cash. No talking. What goes next? Welcome to your ‘app-tive’ digital life

Bank of America's 2018 Trends in Consumer Mobility Report found mobility has changed our lives. Mobile tech influences how most of us communicate, meet people, build relationships, and handle money as we move toward a cashless society.
Mobile

Which smartphone has the best camera? We found the sharpest shooters

They say that the best camera is always the one you have with you and that makes your smartphone camera very important indeed. Join us for a closer look at the best camera phones available right now.
Mobile

Best iPhone 7 Plus screen protectors to shield your big, beautiful display

Cracked screens are expensive to replace. Fortunately for you, we've rounded up what's available in terms of protection for Apple's large iPhone 7 Plus. Here are the best screen protectors you can buy.
Computing

Four fake cryptocurrency apps were listed on the Google Play Store

It is a dangerous time to be going after crytocurrency on Android. Four bogus cryptocurrency apps were spotted on the Google Play Store this week, according to a report from cybersecurity researcher Lukas Stefanko. 
Mobile

New sensor from L’Oréal tracks UV exposure to keep your skin safe from the sun

L'Oréal has announced a new wearable sensor that attaches to your clothing and can track ultraviolet light. The sensor uses NFC instead of Bluetooth -- meaning it doesn't need a battery to work properly.
Cars

Uber rolls out rewards program that lets its most loyal riders lock in prices

Uber launched a new loyalty program today called Uber Rewards. It offers frequent riders credits to Uber Eats, car upgrades, and the ability to lock in prices on their most traveled routes.
Gaming

15 tips for keeping your vault-dwellers alive in ‘Fallout Shelter’

The wasteland can be an unfriendly place, if you don't know what you're doing. Here are 15 tips that will help your vault thrive in Fallout Shelter, including information on questing.
Mobile

Motorola Moto G7: Here’s everything we know

The Moto G6 range is still relatively new to the market, but rumors have already started about the Moto G7, which is expected some time in 2019. Apparently, a G7 Power version will be joining the G7, G7 Play, and G7 Plus.
Mobile

T-Mobile's new Revvl 2, Revvl 2 Plus are now available for purchase

Last year, T-Mobile launched its own line of branded smartphones. As a follow-up to their predecessors, the carrier has unveiled the Revvl 2 and Revvl 2 Plus -- complete with a sleeker design. Here's everything you need to know.
Mobile

How to take great photos with the Pixel 3, the best camera phone around

You’ve scored yourself a new Google Pixel 3 or Pixel 3 XL, and you want to take advantage of that incredible camera. We’ve got everything you need to know right here about how to snap the best photos with your Pixel 3.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…