Server yields no clues to U. of Pittsburgh bomb threats

A server seized in connection with a series of bomb threats directed at the University of Pittsburgh won't help authorities find the perpetrator, Computerworld reports.

The server, which the FBI seized April 18 from a colocation facility in New York shared by Riseup Networks and May First/People Link, used the anonymous remailer Mixmaster. The program scrubs e-mail messages of routing data to make their sources untraceable.

The University of Pittsburgh has received several dozen bomb threats over a two-month period, but authorities have not found any explosives.

Riseup, which provides tech support to progressive political groups including feminist and gay rights organizations, dismissed the seizure of the servers as "extra-judicial punishment and an attack on free speech." The group said the server supported 300 websites, e-mail accounts and e-mail lists for numerous organizations.

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Reader Comments

Mon, Apr 23, 2012 Mike

You cannot retrieve information from the physical hardware which was never stored on the physical hardware in the first place. When they say 'scrubbed', they're not referring to deleted message files, which would be salvageable. In this case, 'scrubbed' just means that it doesn't put the real 'received by' type headers into the version of the message that it passes on to the next MTA (and changes the from: email address). The software doesn't need to write anything to disk to operate properly. The whole point of the software is to thwart things like this.

Mon, Apr 23, 2012

Also misleading is "several dozen" threats. The real number is over 140.

Fri, Apr 20, 2012 Josh Pittsburgh, PA

Your headline is misleading. It should say the server is "not expected" to yield clues. It's clear that it likely would not be able to clarify anything in a straightforward way, but I assume the idea is to retrieve 'scrubbed' information with a deep forensics investigation of the pieces of information on the physical hardware.

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