In light of the recent discussions regarding privacy vs security, such as those being discussed by Apple and the FBI in congress, the discussion often comes back to the encryption and whether groups or government agencies should be able to break it when it comes to security. It could perhaps be damaging to groups like the FBI to learn that it wasn’t encryption that stopped the people responsible for the terrorist attacks in Paris from being detected earlier on but it was instead burner phones.
Burner phones is a term used to describe phones that are used only briefly before being disposed or burned. The concept being that the longer you hold onto a device the easier it is to track and monitor your actions with it. Several phones linked to the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks only activated their phones the day before, or even minutes before the events occurred.
Currently, all the burner phones involved had sent no online chat messages or emails, throwing more doubt over if terrorists use methods which federal agencies are often targeting and claim they need access to monitor and track.
With little to no evidence that encryption played any part in their communications, recent calls to unlock encryption communication because of these events could struggle to hold the sway they did before while traditional methods of burner phones and “dead drops” (where you leave a package or message at a specific location for picking up at a later date) could require more old-fashioned work to catch early on.