NSA Leaker Identified Thanks to Hidden Watermarks from Xerox Printer

The following appears on piworld.com

By Ashley Roberts – Reality Leigh Winner is in hot water thanks to a Xerox DocuColor printer, according to ars Technica, part of the Wired Digital Group, Vice News and other news sites. In May, Winner — an independent NSA contractor with high-security clearance — anonymously sent classified documents to The Intercept about the Russian hacks during the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The documents were printed on a Xerox DocuColor and sent to The Intercept. What Winner didn’t know is that many printers use encoded watermarks — called steganography according to Lifehacker — that work as a way to track printed documents back to a specific device.

Vice News reports that after Winner’s documents were received, The Intercept approached the NSA to verify the documents’ authenticity, and 48 hours later the FBI issued a warrant for the young woman’s arrest. The news site goes on to report that the NSA knew the documents had been printed because they “appeared to be folded and/or creased, suggesting they had been printed and hand-carried out of a secured space.”


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