NSA and GCHQ even had backdoors into mechanical encryption

Discussion in 'privacy general' started by quietman, Jul 28, 2015.

  1. quietman

    quietman Registered Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2014
    Posts:
    491
    Location:
    Earth .... occasionally
    This article is on the BBC website today.

    As far back as the 1940s , NSA and GCHQ even had backdoors into the mechanical encryption devices that came
    after Enigma , in particular , the CX52 cypher machine .

    " That company, founded by a man called Boris Hagelin, was called Crypto AG."

    There is more on this story today on BBC's Radio 4 program " Document " .... it should be available to listen online in most countries,
     
  2. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Posts:
    6,029
    That's well known, and discussed in Bamford's books about the NSA. In addition to having backdoors, NSA and GCHQ restricted availability of secure machines. Others could only get less secure and/or backdoored machines, and so their encrypted communications were easily decrypted by NSA and GCHQ.
     
  3. Nebulus

    Nebulus Registered Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2007
    Posts:
    1,582
    Location:
    European Union
    I didn't knew about this. Very interesting, thanks!
     
  4. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2013
    Posts:
    1,150
    Location:
    UK
    The resurrection of this story reeks of some convenient narrative:
    • we've always had backdoors (therefore why not now?)
    • we've always listened to everything (ditto)
    That this narrative is profoundly misleading and false in effect, is no problem to them.
     
  5. mirimir

    mirimir Registered Member

    Joined:
    Oct 1, 2011
    Posts:
    6,029
    Well, the US and UK did know how to compromise most commercial crypto machines from ~1945 through ~1990. It was only the development of academic and commercial cryptography, starting I believe in the late 80s, that broke the US/UK monopoly on strong crypto. That's what the Crypto War was all about, when Silicon Valley demanded strong crypto. And that's why Gore lost, because they pulled their support after he pushed the Clipper Chip.

    So anyway, I'd say that it's the period from ~1990 through the present that's unusual. Even German and Japanese codes were pwned by the US and UK during WWII. And Russian codes didn't fare well either, except of course for their one-time pads. Did y'all ever listen to those Russian shortwave broadcasts, with women (usually) reading characters in blocks of eight?
     
  6. deBoetie

    deBoetie Registered Member

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2013
    Posts:
    1,150
    Location:
    UK
    Strong crypto was already in the German's Enigma machine!
    It was weak opsec that compromised the messages - and even there, it "went dark" for a while when Donitz added the extra rotor...
    I suspect nothing's changed from that point of view either - opsec is even weaker, they steal, coerce or are given keys, and the end systems are "terrifically weak". So, inconvenient, yes, going dark, no.
     
Loading...