An Islamic terrorist has been sentenced to five years in prison for not revealing the password to a USB memory stick that British security forces failed to crack.
The interesting issue here is not simply that the convicted man, Syed Hussain, was a terrorist hindering an investigation. Rather, it is that he was a terrorist with a sophisticated password protocol that stymied security forces for about a year.
Hussain, 22, from Luton, was originally imprisoned in 2012 for his role in plotting an attack on a U.K. army base, according to the BBC. But he did not reveal the password to an encrypted thumb drive police found in his home until December 2013, claiming that stress had made him forget it.
The police became interested in the thumb drive during a separate investigation of credit card fraud. Yesterday, a jury convicted him of the separate offence of refusing the reveal the password to police, thus hindering the fraud probe.
While Hussain was sitting in prison, police turned over the stick to GCHQ, the British equivalent of the NSA, but experts there failed to crack the password. It’s not clear how the password was finally revealed: The BBC says Hussain was finally persuaded to confess it, but a local news service says the National Technical Assistance Centre, a U.K. tech intelligence agency, recovered the password.
The password was “$ur4ht4ub4h8,” a play on words relating to the Koran.
The jury took only 19 minutes to reach its verdict, according to the Luton & Dunstable Express.