Beyond Keyword Filtering for Message and Conversation Detection
Keyword filtering is a commonly used way to select, from a set of intercepted messages, those that need further scrutiny. An obvious countermeasure is to replace words that might be on a keyword list by others. We show that this strategy itself creates a signature in the altered messages that makes them readily detectable using several forms of matrix decomposition. Not only can unusual messages be detected, but sets of related messages can be detected as conversations, even when their endpoints have been obscured (by using transient email addresses, stolen cell phones and so on).
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