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A canary trap is a method for exposing an information leak by giving different versions of a sensitive document to each of several suspects and seeing which version gets leaked. It could be one false statement, to see if sensitive information gets out to other people as well. Special attention is paid to the quality of the prose of the unique language, in the hopes that the suspect will repeat it verbatim in the leak, thereby identifying the version of the document.
The term was coined by
Each summary paragraph has six different versions, and the mixture of those paragraphs is unique to each numbered copy of the paper. There are over a thousand possible permutations, but only ninety-six numbered copies of the actual document. The reason the summary paragraphs are so lurid is to entice a reporter to quote them verbatim in the public media. If he quotes something from two or three of those paragraphs, we know which copy he saw and, therefore, who leaked it.
A refinement of this technique uses a thesaurus program to shuffle through synonyms, thus making every copy of the document unique.
Following the troubled production of
After a series of leaks at
In October 2019, British celebrity