Comments: Is Provenzano a Kindergarten Cryptographer?

Reasonable doubt thats all one needs. Are they rants of a mad man or coded messages? Now prove that beyond any doubt. In hiding for fourty years due to his lost mental state to guard his family from the shame associated with mental illness or coded messages from a master mind of criminal activity. Run the code and see if all the messages have significance or the person fro whom the message was drafted for had that understanding. So even if they are coded messages it has to be proven in court and in that lies the case of a Mafia Chief or a crazy old man hidden to reduce the impact of shame on his loved ones. Prove the murders and theft, just because someone is in hiding does not mean the state has made a case. Omerta cuts two ways it leaves doubt.

Posted by Jimbo at April 20, 2006 10:10 AM

Evidence derived from crypto is worthless in court unless a direct result can be tied to the information. But the code breakers forget one thing if one event tied to a coded message deviates from the decoded messages instructions then the theory applied to the coded message is in question. Unbreakable code is no where to be found but misdirecting the intent of the message is fairly easy. So if Vinny gets a message from Vito to kill Guido and he buys a ham sandwich instead of killing Guido the intent of the decoded message might have meant to buy a ham sandwich. Kill Guido could easily be an inside joke and understood to mean that a sale of quality pork products was availible and should be exploited.

Posted by Jimbo at April 20, 2006 10:26 AM

> The recently arrested "boss of bosses" of the Sicilian Mafia, Bernardo
> Provenzano, wrote notes using an encryption scheme similar to the one
> used by Julius Caesar more than 2,000 years ago, according to a
> biography of Italy's most wanted man.

Sicilian mafia also uses mobile phones that change their IMEI numbers on every call (like it really does something)... and they paid a lot of money for them too. Apparently they "don't believe in encryption".

Posted by Ruptor at April 20, 2006 02:05 PM

I wouldn't call him a security maestro: he failed to destroy the pizzinis. Why would he keep them around?

Posted by Daniel A. Nagy at April 21, 2006 05:31 AM

Daniel, certainly that is an open question, and it would be good to study the system in more detail. One would think that if he hadn't seen the danger in that after so long, then there might be a reason why he didn't destroy them. Maybe as Jim suggests, he was deliberately leaking them to see what happens...

Another open question was the use of the old typewriter. As we know, all typewriters have "signatures" ... It's an interesting problem to speculate on what the best method is to send a written message across a leaky channel.

Posted by Iang at April 21, 2006 05:44 AM

Doing a mobile phone version where you could pre-load a series of prepaid sim cards (i.e. extract whatever needed to emulate the presence afterwards!) so that after each call you could change sim cards without having to do so physically, would be a big challenge. Being reachable while changing sims and imei all the time would be the biggest challenge, I guess...

Posted by BM at April 21, 2006 05:46 AM
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