Last night I saw an episode of CSI Miami.
While I like a techno-geeky police procedural show as much as the next guy (and most guys do :-), it left me with a queasy feeling.
Have I been bamboozled?
In this episode, one of the corpses was killed in his office, where apparently he had been using his notebook to connect via Wi-fi to use another building's access point to reach an escort via email, bypassing the security of his office network.
Now, that's all cool and nice, but the problems started quickly.
First, they managed to read an email the deceased had sent, by inspecting some computer in the access point LAN.
Ok, maybe they had a SMTP proxy, or the guy had used the SMTP server and they had full message logging (but no sending address control?).
Unlikely, but possible.
The big problems came when they recovered the notebook and could see two response mails from the escort.
They had IP addresses like 18.104.22.168.1109
They saw that one had that address, and the other mail had .1108, so they decided that:
One was a forgery
Both came from computers in the same network
They could find both computers in the cyberporn outfit where the escort worked
Well, Those IP addresses are mightly long and have very large bytes. Also, why on earth did the computers that sent the messages have static IP addresses?
Shouldn't both have been NATed to the same IP?
Unless they used a private SMTP server, of course! In which case, it would have had email address checks on the sender. Remember, this was a cyberporn outfit, the porn people KNOW IT. Better than most companies!
Finally: they went after a suspect because of the IP address in an email???????
That is so easy to fake it's not funny. If the stuff I know about is so wrong, how right are the things I don't know about, like DNA testing and whatever.
BTW: one of the investigators had a blood sample "done", without telling the lab worker the reason, had a single page printout, and comparing two numbers to a similar page of a dead guy, he knew the blood was from the dead guy's daughter.
I am pretty sure that to test genetic relation, you need to do something a bit harder than that! ;-)
So, in short, sure, we are bamboozled every week. All the magic is smoke and mirrors. But hey, it's fun, and the CSI offices look like starship Enterprise circa 2300, except the desks are covered with bottles of pretty colours :-)