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Experts Profile Pitt Bomb Threat Maker

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- What is the profile of the person or people who've been behind the bomb threats at Pitt?

Without a suspect in custody, everything experts think is merely speculation, but there are some common theories.

The inconvenience, the fear and the disgust of recent days is bad enough. But some expert theories are equally disturbing – especially if the perpetrator is watching all this up close.

First among the theories of a number of experts is that the threat maker is a male who enjoys the power of knowing that both law enforcement, the media and students have to be mobilized every time a threat is made.

And that the threat maker could be watching the results of the threats either in person or through the media, gaining a degree of satisfaction from watching the emergency responders and the media and the students have to adjust to the latest threat.

It's also likely the person or persons have some tie to the university.

Some threats were written in bathrooms but others sent by way of e-mail.

An e-mail sent to a Post-Gazette reporter was from an anonymous person with indications that the e-mail chain passed through Austria, but e-mail remailers launder the chain so much it's hard to know where it really came from.

"The way these remailers work is imagine a package that has a destination 'to' address and a 'from' address and imagine that it gets sent through multiple stages where each stage they take off the 'from' address and add a new 'from' address and just keep sending that," Carnegie Mellon University Professor Michael Smith said.

"If you get enough of those stages, it's nearly impossible to go back and figure out at each level of the chain where did it come from," he added.

Smith says this type of privacy technology has been around for at least 10 years.

Can you learn anything about the sender's use of a hard to trace e-mail? Does that mean the sender is very sophisticated with regard to computers?

"No. In fact you need a moderate amount of computer sophistication, but you don't need a whole lot of computer sophistication to pull this off," Smith said. "You need to know a little bit about what you're doing, but this is not necessarily a really sophisticated hacker."

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