Friday, July 12, 2013

Global Impact: Russian Intelligence Shifts to Typewriters to Thwart Cyber Espionage

According to AFP, Russian intelligence agents, confronted with an over-reaching cyber data-mining program on a global basis on the part of the National Security Agency (NSA), that incidentally has a number of nations crying foul, have decided to go off-line, particularly where the production of highly sensitive strategic information is concerned.

Their new strategy? Purchasing a sufficient number of typewriters in order to not get caught up in cyber data being compromised on-line.

COMMENT: Each typewriter to be used by Russian intelligence agencies bears a slightly different pattern typeface or font, so it would be possible to trace every single document produced by the new bank of typewriters back to an individual machine.

The WikiLeaks exposé, not to mention Edward Snowden's provocative releases and former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev being eavesdropped on during his visit to the G20 summit in London, the less bureaucratic Russian government has quickly shifted back to the typewriter for the dissemination of ultra-sensitive material.

Although contemporary computers make it relatively easy to create documents in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get), computerization does come at a significant cost. For example, the US Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration spent over $US2.7 million getting malware off some of their computer systems.

The US government, largely because of its massive size and the fact that contractors perform so much of Washington's work these days, long-term federal contracts would make it virtually impossible for intelligence agencies to shift so quickly to a low-tech, low risk system such as the one created by the Russians. 

There clearly is a message point here for global companies who are required to protect trade secrets and other highly sensitive business information. That is, like the Russian government, it would be prudent for international companies to begin using typewriters for the creation of highly sensitive information which could be compromised as a result of electronic cyber-mining.