Espionage/Police Procedural Filter: how do the police, or CIA, or FBI, MI5, MI6, private eyes, or whoever do their job in a world of encryption, cloud storage, and teeny tiny little storage devices?
Lots of classic detective fiction hinges on finding some stolen letter or photo--think Sherlock Holmes in A Scandal in Bohemia
or Poe's Purloined Letter
, and countless others, but those came to mind immediately.
I loved the Sherlock reboot, and I was surprised to see that one of the episodes for its second season is "A Scandal in Belgravia
" (which I assume is an update of A Scandal in Bohemia).
But how? If Irene Adler from the Holmes story were to copy a digitized image--hell, an entire encyclopedia and a 30-minute incriminating video--to a 2gb Micro-SD card that's smaller than my thumbnail, encrypt it with a 256-bit Blowfish key (or whatever), and THEN hide that Micro-SD card in any of 10 million physical locations, how on earth would Holmes get anywhere on the case?
I hasten to add that this question is not just about that one episode of a TV show
. Rather, can anyone give a rundown of what the police do when they are searching for incriminating digital files? Or when the FBI or CIA are looking for spies with top secret stuff? When--literally--every single book I've ever read can fit in a virtually uncrackable archive on a micro SD that's 1/4 the size of a postage stamp and can be hidden almost anywhere (to say nothing of storing somewhere on the cloud), how on earth does anything get done?
I think of the last scene in The Conversation
where Hackman is searching for some tiny mic--but 1000x more impossible: not only do you have to find a Micro SD card, but even if you find it, it's encrypted to the Nth degree, and would take a supercomputer 1000 years to brute force the password.
This seems highly unsatisfying. Is this really how things work?