Sex-for-match-fixing trial: Hide it like Beckham

Sex-for-match-fixing trial: Hide it like Beckham
ON TRIAL: Eric Ding Si Yang allegedly bribed three Lebanese match officials before they were due to officiate a match.

SINGAPORE - THE password to access the encrypted hard disk on the Sony Vaio laptop turned out to be the surname of former football icon David Beckham.

This was revealed in court on Tuesday during the sex-for-match-fixing trial involving businessman Eric Ding Si Yang.

Ding, 31, is on trial for allegedly bribing three Lebanese match officials before they were due to officiate an Asian Football Confederation match in April.

Forensics officer Sim Lai Hua said the hard disk of the laptop seized from Ding was encrypted with a software called TrueCrypt.

During cross-examination, Ding's lawyer, Mr Thong Chee Kun, asked if a "widely available encryption software" like TrueCrypt is as secure as what is usually used by government agencies.

Mr Sim, who is from the Criminal Investigation Department's Technology Crime Forensic Branch, replied that "even FBI (the US Federal Bureau of Investigation) could have problems" cracking a TrueCrypt-encrypted file. He added that the decryption is dependent on many factors, like the strength of the password.

Upon decoding the password and conducting a forensic analysis, Mr Sim told the court an "extremely large" encrypted 30GB file in the hard disk caught his attention.

In the file was a folder named KryptoMail.

"KryptoMail is an e-mail service that cannot be intercepted," he said.

This means the e-mails are encrypted, making it readable only to the sender and receiver, he explained. In that folder was an accompanying e-mail client which sends and receives e-mails.

From there, Mr Sim retrieved some e-mails that he confirmed were "identical" - even the headers - to the ones Ding had purportedly sent to Lebanese referee Ali Sabbagh.

Earlier in the trial, Mr Sabbagh, 34, had claimed that Ding, whom he knew as James, had sent him an e-mail with more than 20 links to YouTube videos on awarding penalties to teach him how to fix matches.

"Text fragments" - deleted files from surfing the Internet - pertaining to two e-mail addresses linked to Ding were also found.

This means that the laptop had been used to access those two e-mail accounts, Mr Sim said.

Holiday snaps

Aside from the e-mails, photographs of Ding were also recovered from the laptop's hard disk. The New Paper understands that these photographs are of Ding on holiday trips overseas. At this point, Mr Thong interjected.

"Just because someone's photographs appear on that computer, that computer belongs to the person. I don't think that's a fair argument to make," he said.

During cross-examination, Mr Thong then asked if it was possible for Mr Sim to determine any digital trace of the person who installed the TrueCrypt software through the analysis.

Mr Sim said he could not be sure. The trial is expected to resume on Oct 31.

fjieying@sph.com.sg


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