Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Russian Federal Guard Service "Upgrades" To Electric Typewriters

timothy posted about a year ago | from the you'll-need-some-cyrillic-white-out dept.

Security 163

Razgorov Prikazka writes "The Russian Federal Guard Service (FSO), who are in charge of protecting high level politicians like president Putin (amongst others), are 'upgrading' to electric typewriters for writing sensitive documents. They have found out that computers pose a security risk and this is their answer to it. On first sight this seems like a very pragmatic and cost-efficient thing to do. However, the FSO has its roots in the KGB and those were the ones who placed keystroke loggers on the popular IBM Selectric electric typewriter 40 years ago! So how much safer does this make them?"

cancel ×

163 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

in soviet russia (-1, Offtopic)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about a year ago | (#44251187)

in soviet russia we typewrite you

Re:in soviet russia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251347)

oblig.

Re:in soviet russia (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year ago | (#44251537)

UEFI?

Re:in soviet russia (2)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44251669)

Pre-flight instructions for passengers about to depart Russian airports:

Please turn off all electronic devices, including mobile phones, laptop computers, tablet computers and electric typewriters...

Re:in soviet russia (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251807)

Would you believe that Maxwell Smart (agent 86) figured that out years ago while working for Control. Not only computers but shoe phones pose a security risk. That's why we have Cell phone and not Shoe phones. The only way to have secure communications is to use the "Cone of Silence" when discussing anything of importance.

Re:in soviet russia (1)

JustOK (667959) | about a year ago | (#44252205)

WHAT?

Re:in soviet russia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252693)

Apparently it was funny 40 years ago.

Re:in soviet russia (1)

gmanterry (1141623) | about a year ago | (#44252817)

Apparently it was funny 40 years ago.

Trust me it was.

How much safer (5, Insightful)

schneidafunk (795759) | about a year ago | (#44251209)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

Re:How much safer (-1, Redundant)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year ago | (#44251377)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

^This.

Re:How much safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251461)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

^This.

^That.

Re:How much safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251569)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

^This.

^That.

^The other thing.

Re:How much safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251591)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

^This.

^That.

^The other thing.

^ Down with this sort of thing

Re:How much safer (0)

nozzo (851371) | about a year ago | (#44251665)

^ Feck

Re:How much safer (0)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44251695)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

^This.

^That.

^The other thing.

^ Down with this sort of thing

^Poppadom?

Re:How much safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251611)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

^This.

^That.

^ The other thing.

Re:How much safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252717)

^ Too Slow

Re:How much safer (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#44251433)

I suspect having a device that has only one purpose, as compared to a computer, it is much less likely to be compromised and much easier to detect.

actually it would be very hard to detect. but the attack would have to be pretty local at least initially, or in the supply chain.

and at least it's not networked by default.

however - could just as well upgrade to 8mhz xt's booted from read only media.. and a printer attached.

Re:How much safer (1)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#44251769)

The attacker would have to physically implant the bug in the machine, which would take training. Once it's in, however, the bug can isn't limited to wired networks or short range technologies like Bluetooth or WiFi. It could use GSM or SMS with nothing more than parts bought at a Radio Shack.

Re:How much safer (4, Funny)

kimvette (919543) | about a year ago | (#44252059)

Radio shack still sells parts?

Are you sure you mean Radio Shack? The place where their motto is apparently "You've got questions, we've got blank stares?" THAT Radio Shack?

Re:How much safer (1)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#44252725)

Surprisingly, yes. There's one in the building next to ours, and we often browse the shop during lunch. They have Seeed Studios Seeeduinos, Arduinos, and various shields including a GSM shield. A friend bought one which he wired to remotely operate an outlet via SMS.

Re:How much safer (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about a year ago | (#44253011)

Yes they do. Granted they have a bigger selection of phones or RC vehicles it seems. The parts are basically relegated to a few shelf feet off in a back corner of the store, usually the one farthest from the door. At least that is how the one near my house is. I only go there when I want something today and micro center doesn't have it as they tend to be fairly expensive.

Re:How much safer (2)

Idbar (1034346) | about a year ago | (#44251451)

I was thinking, why not mechanical? Wouldn't that save on electricity costs as well?

Re:How much safer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251567)

A long time ago the US needed a way for astronauts to write stuff when they were in orbit. After a lot of money got spent, and a lot of time got burned, we got the Fisher Space Pen.

The Russians thought about it for a few minutes, and gave their astronauts pencils...

[ Heh: Capsha = "erasable" ]

Re:How much safer (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year ago | (#44251597)

That's like a totally true story dude.

Re:How much safer (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251633)

Bullshit, pencil shavings get into equipment and short circuit things

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]

Re:How much safer (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44252749)

Bullshit, pencil shavings get into equipment and short circuit things

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp [snopes.com]

Me holding up dripping keyboard: "Were you drinking coffee around this thing?"

Secretary: "No."

Were this an ideal world, her nose would have grown out about 2 inches.

Re:How much safer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251813)

Actually, they do it the half-assed, russkie way. Why do they need ANY electronics in the typewriters ? Considering

A) TEMPEST

and

B) This: http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/in-his-own-words-confessions-of-cyber-warrior-222266

I don't think they got seriously more secure than using a computer with physically destroyed USB and ethernet ports.

Uncle Samuel and great-uncle David surely have an exploit for these typewriters in their arsenal already. All you need to do is to open the typewriters with a screwdriver and put a little custom-built chip/connector/transmitter thing on a certain chip. Have that thing labbelled as "chip 781267-121, (C) All-russian typewriter corporation, Novosibirsk" and the humint guys of this org will never figure anything fishy.

Re:How much safer (3, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44252501)

I don't think they got seriously more secure than using a computer with physically destroyed USB and ethernet ports.

I think it's hard to reliably destroy the USB ports for someone that has physical access to the machine and is motivated to get data off - USB is integrated into the core logic chips on the motherboard, so even if you destroy the actual ports, someone could tap into the traces on the motherboard to access the port. Though I guess if he has that much access to the machine, he'd just find a way to write it unencrypted to the hard drive and would take the hard drive with him. (I know there are operating system controls that make it hard to use USB ports or write data where it shouldn't go, but those controls can be bypassed)

If he can find a way to run a binary on the machine, then it's even easier to get data off -- he can just have his app flash QR codes on the screen at 15 frames per second and record it with a camera to get a 45kbyte/sec stream of data. With a good camera and a high res screen he can probably achieve much higher bitrates.

Re:How much safer (1)

msmonroe (2511262) | about a year ago | (#44252065)

Yes that's the way I am understanding it as well, there may also be a loss in productivity; Basically the office staff is wasting too much time cruising the internet. We'll see if this is a better solution or not...

Re:How much safer (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44252609)

Less likely to be compromises?

It may be easier to detect an electric typewriter, because each key-press triggers one or more solenoids, which emit a small electromagnetic radio signal, detectable through walls.

Further you have the burn requirement of the ribbon, because you can often recover the message from the ribbon, especially single use plastic ribbons.

A smarter choice might have been an purely mechanical typewriter, which emits no radio signal, and has a ribbon that is intended to be used repeatedly, lessening the chance of reading the ribbon.

cost. (4, Funny)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | about a year ago | (#44251221)

It's probably cheaper than trying to out-bid American hipsters for old Remington typewriters.

Re:cost. (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44252825)

Darn. There goes my chance to get rich. All 3 of mine are Royal typewriters.

Safer than an Internet Connected Computer? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251227)

To place a keylogger on a typewriter you need physical access to the typewriter... to place a keylogger on a computer you need the internet...

I can see the advantage...

Physical access? (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44251471)

To place a keylogger on a typewriter you need physical access to the typewriter... to place a keylogger on a computer you need the internet...

And if said computer is never connected to any networks how do you propose to install said keylogger?

Re:Physical access? (1)

FranTaylor (164577) | about a year ago | (#44251603)

to place a keylogger on a computer you need the internet

Only if you buy your keyloggers at radio shack!

And if said computer is never connected to any networks how do you propose to install said keylogger?

With a screwdriver perhaps?

Re:Physical access? (1)

kelarius (947816) | about a year ago | (#44251673)

Then what's the point of having the computer if all you're doing is printing reports with it? Do you want to be able to play Galaga and hope noone notices?

Ever used a typewriter? (1)

sjbe (173966) | about a year ago | (#44252011)

Then what's the point of having the computer if all you're doing is printing reports with it?

You've never actually tried to type something on a typewriter have you? No one who has used both a word processor and a typewriter would possibly ask such a ridiculous question.

Re:Physical access? (3, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | about a year ago | (#44252023)

Stuxnet jumped the air gap just fine via jump drives and other sneakernet tech.

Re:Physical access? (1)

davester666 (731373) | about a year ago | (#44252027)

USB device, CD/DVD/Floppy, however they transfer documents.

Nothing is safe (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251269)

When your opponent has access to your hardware, you've already lost. That's true whether its a mechanical typewriter, electric typewriter, or a computer.

Re:Nothing is safe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252545)

They don't, strictly speaking, even need that. All they need is access to someone who has access to your hardware.

Re:Nothing is safe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252745)

you entirely count out physical and mechanical counter measures, such as tamper evidence, tamper resistance, locking service covers/disassembly points, etc...

you can also do "least access" with hardware, as in secure everything except what the user needs to function, such as screens and keyboards, and lock access to the rest.

access to hardware is also vauge. What kind of access? unsupervised access? how long?

There are many things you can do to deter physical attacks, where you can expect the hardware to be in an area with opponents, or at least untrusted inviduals.

Keep it simple (5, Funny)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44251271)

No written communications. This whole writing and reading thing is overrated, and apparently can be dangerous.

Re:Keep it simple (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251519)

"Conversation was invented by humans to reveal secrets. We use it to sweet talk our way into people's business. You know who has safe conversations? Ants. They talk by vomiting chemicals into each other’s mouths. They get right down to brass tacks. Bleh! Which way’s the picnic? Bleh! That way. Humans are more evolved. We spy."

Here's the NSA historical document (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251289)

http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/_files/cryptologic_histories/Learning_from_the_Enemy.pdf

Re:Here's the NSA historical document (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252641)

You think I'm going to visit nsa.gov? Next time the NSA is reading my communications they can leave me a copy.

So Awesome (4, Funny)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44251293)

I was driving by Fort Meade today and I heard a collective scream of "PUUUUUTTTTTIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNNN!!!" coming from the NSA headquarters. Every single PRISM employee screamed in agony.

Sound (4, Interesting)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44251361)

I remember reading a slashdot story years ago where researchers were able to determine which keys on a computer keyboard were pressed just by the sound they produced mechanically. I would think it would be even easier to use this technique against a typewriter.

Physical bug needed (1)

Roger W Moore (538166) | about a year ago | (#44251511)

You still need to physically get a bug into the room where the typewriter is. I imagine this is a lot harder and certainly carries far more personal risk than siting half way around the world and connecting via the net.

Re:Physical bug needed (1)

Razgorov Prikazka (1699498) | about a year ago | (#44251713)

RTFA.

[...]reports about Dmitry Medvedev being listened in on during his visit to the G20 summit in London[...]

Apparently the whole listening in to things is somehow covered in the spy-training curriculum. Who would have guessed that huh? </sarcasm>

Re:Physical bug needed (1)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#44251817)

In a related story (also quite old), researchers were able to pick up enough leaked RF to read a USB keyboard from an adjacent room. Again, you have to get physically close, but not necessarily into the exact room.

Re:Physical bug needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251903)

True, and we all know that spies are terrible at spying, -especially- when it comes to day-to-day tasks like bugging and listening into a room.

Re:Physical bug needed (1)

Dan East (318230) | about a year ago | (#44251983)

No you don't. Devices have existed for decades which reflect a laser beam off of a glass window to pick up vibrations. Basically a window acts like a giant microphone diagram and vibrates as sound waves inside the room strike it

Re:Physical bug needed (1)

lxs (131946) | about a year ago | (#44252683)

*diaphragm.

Unless your windows are decorated with annotated drawings of microphones. Which would make you my hero.

Re:Sound (1)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#44251739)

I remember reading a slashdot story years ago where researchers were able to determine which keys on a computer keyboard were pressed just by the sound they produced mechanically. I would think it would be even easier to use this technique against a typewriter.

That technique is called "acoustic cryptanalysis" [wikipedia.org] — though if these documents are typed in plaintext, it might be more accurately described as "acoustic transcription."

Don't forget about tempest! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251365)

I... huh... mean the game, of course!

Re:Don't forget about tempest! (1)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44251833)

The Game.

You have lost it.

Not all typewriters are ball-type (5, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#44251371)

The Ball-type IBM Selectric typewriters had a flaw that made it easy to tell what was being said just by the sound and delay between characters. You didn't even have to have the listening device in the typewriter, it could be across the room if it was "directional" enough.

While you could probably decode a lever-type typewriter's activity from just a good sound recording, it's probably much harder.

Oh, and as for trying to decode an inkjet- or thermal- electric typewriters just by the noise, "good luck with that."

Of course, today, if you can plant spy equipment in the room where the person is typing and you are good and well-funded, you don't need to rely on the noise the typewriter makes. Or, to put it another way, if you have a determined adversary who is significantly better than you, it's probably "game over" before the game even begins.

Mylar ink tape (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251701)

A record of all keystrokes is stored on the mylar ink tape used in the Selectric. You need to incinerate the ink cartridge after use to keep things secure.

Re:Mylar ink tape (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#44253041)

Yeah, I forgot about that. That's not unique to Selectrics. I'm sure there were one-time-use ribbons for most typewriters back in the day. They made crisper, more professional-looking output.

Re:Not all typewriters are ball-type (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#44251709)

I remember some electric typewriters using a wheel. Perhaps if the typewriter would spin the wheel at random so the distance between where the current letter is versus where it needs to go would be random (and thus unusable assuming a good RNG.) When someone is typing, it could also vary speed as well, so going from an "A" to a "B" may be the same time as going to something spaced 180 degrees away, or may not.

Add to that a small RAM buffer that scrubs data after it gets typed, and that would be decently secure.

Like new... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251375)

I hear Johannes Gutenberg's estate has some pretty sweet deal on printing press... low millage, never used in the winter!

Easy to answer (4, Interesting)

Idarubicin (579475) | about a year ago | (#44251415)

However, the FSO has its roots in the KGB and those were the ones who placed keystroke loggers on the popular IBM Selectric electric typewriter 40 years ago! So how much safer does this make them?

"Somewhat".

If your adversary has physical access to any piece of hardware, it's impossible to secure. Period. One can install a keystroke logger on a modern computer keyboard as well. Switching to non-networked, 'dumb', electric typewriters doesn't block this avenue for attack.

On the other hand, depending on the typewriter's features, it will be very difficult or impossible to remotely compromise, or to compromise using non-hardware approaches. Entire classes of attacks are rendered irrelevant.

To be fair, this does introduce some new potential avenues for attack--increased physical document handling means additional risks related to moving and securing bits of paper.

Re:Easy to answer (1)

plover (150551) | about a year ago | (#44251857)

When you go that old school, you have to be sure to shred your carbon paper, too.

I'm not sure if my son has ever seen a sheet of carbon paper.

Re:Easy to answer (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44252199)

Ditto!

Cylons (1)

thatDBA (2626877) | about a year ago | (#44251431)

Can Toasters type ?

Gotta Love Ruskie's Pragmatism (2)

luis_a_espinal (1810296) | about a year ago | (#44251445)

"The Russian Federal Guard Service (FSO), who are in charge of protecting high level politicians like president Putin (amongst others), are 'upgrading' to electric typewriters for writing sensitive documents. They have found out that computers pose a security risk and this is their answer to it. On first sight this seems like a very pragmatic and cost-efficient thing to do.

This kind of reminds me of the Colonial solution to Cylon infiltration in the re-imagined BSG TV series. Obviously not perfect, but also simple and good enough. It is not something we in the U.S. - with so much resources to waste (and fall into further debt) would think about.

However, the FSO has its roots in the KGB and those were the ones who placed keystroke loggers on the popular IBM Selectric electric typewriter 40 years ago! So how much safer does this make them?"

It makes them safer from UNWANTED/EXTERNAL infiltration. Infiltration by them is just fine. In the world of political/military security and intelligence, safety does not mean impenetrability. It means resilient to infiltration that you do not want. This is a completely different requirement from the requirement of "safety" as understood in the commercial/private sector.

John Le Carre just perked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251473)

Three words: Whited out text

Re:John Le Carre just perked up (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251583)

For Russian aesthetic requirements, using a soldering iron to burn out redacted words would be just fine, I think.

Here some other brutally un-aesthetic, but quite efficient and somewhat more secure thing:

http://sourceforge.net/p/sappeurcompiler/code-0/2/tree/trunk/

Not of the Russian sort, though.

Humans are the biggest weakness (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251481)

Given modern technology and the ability to extract information from the brain via radio, the biggest threat this department will face over the next decade will be information leaked by people thinking about certain plans outside of shielded environments.

I suppose the next big thing in security training, will be people with extensive experience on such systems and the ability to withhold information.

Looks like all those "targeted individuals" will be the only ones able to operate in such an environment.

All US TLAs ... (2)

PPH (736903) | about a year ago | (#44251533)

... should adopt this. It will make spotting people like Snowden easier. Just look for the carbon paper smudges on his fingers. On the other hand, it will make them stand out at DEFCON [slashdot.org] when they break out their travel typewriters to make reports. And don't forget all of them lining up to use the bank of payphones in the lobby to call in reports.

@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251545)

Despite the fact HP could not avoid the "Ping Of Death",

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping_of_death

I can hear all the C and C++ developers tell me, my cat and the entire world that "good programmers can write secure C and C++ code". It appears all the operating system developers at HP, SUN, IBM and the like were simply shitty programmers. That's one explanation.

The other explanation is that C and C++ are horribly dangerous programming languages and should not be used, AS PEOPLE WILL OTHERWISE STOP USING COMPUTERS. That will affect all of us as in "NO MORE JOBS FOR DEVELOPERS AND OTHER IT FIDDLERS OF INSECURE CRAP ".

Here is my little attempt to improve Software Security:

http://sourceforge.net/p/sappeurcompiler/code-0/2/tree/trunk/

And if you still think C and C++ are a great idea, read this:

http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/in-his-own-words-confessions-of-cyber-warrior-222266

Re:@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44251595)

Can you tell me about the HOSTS file too?

Re:@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251725)

Yeah, if you can't counter the argument, associate it with something completely different. Makes LOTS of sense.

Re:@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251969)

Is that what you just did? Because nobody sane will see an actual argument in your OP.

Re:@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252031)

Oh really ? My argument is that software has gotten a reputation for being extremely insecure. And that means people will stop using computers for many critical tasks completely. Can't you see how this will affect employment of computer experts (for a lack of a better general term) ?

Re:@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252005)

Whoosh @ u, n00bster.

Re:@Software Engineers: YOU brought this upon US ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252319)

Despite the fact HP could not avoid the "Ping Of Death",

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ping_of_death [wikipedia.org]

I can hear all the C and C++ developers tell me, my cat and the entire world that "good programmers can write secure C and C++ code". It appears all the operating system developers at HP, SUN, IBM and the like were simply shitty programmers. That's one explanation.

The other explanation is that C and C++ are horribly dangerous programming languages and should not be used, AS PEOPLE WILL OTHERWISE STOP USING COMPUTERS. That will affect all of us as in "NO MORE JOBS FOR DEVELOPERS AND OTHER IT FIDDLERS OF INSECURE CRAP ".

Here is my little attempt to improve Software Security:

http://sourceforge.net/p/sappeurcompiler/code-0/2/tree/trunk/ [sourceforge.net]

And if you still think C and C++ are a great idea, read this:

http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/in-his-own-words-confessions-of-cyber-warrior-222266 [infoworld.com]

Since I'm a computer expert, I've decided to soup-up your post with bleeding-edge, World Wide Web 1.0 "Hyper-Link" technology. Now all you have to do is point your cursor (computer mouse*) at a "URL" and click the button (on the computer mouse) and Netscape Navigator will automatically go to the new web "page." Amazing!

* If you have a newer computer mouse, it might have more than one button... Check your owner's manual for which button to press.

Anyone else remember... (4, Interesting)

TheCarp (96830) | about a year ago | (#44251551)

A while back someone did some research and published it on keystroke logging via audio capture. They found they were able to reliably determine what someone was typing just from the sound of their typing. I have to imagine that would work here.

http://www.berkeley.edu/news/media/releases/2005/09/14_key.shtml [berkeley.edu]

Though, maybe they also run white noise generators in the office?

Re:Anyone else remember... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251635)

Focus on the walls, as something called Körperschall in my language is a very serious threat. The mic could be located in an entirely different room. So transmit the noise in the walls and the windows.

Captcha: Sausages. Yeah, with Sauerkraut. I know. Stereotypes.

and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251579)

Now lets go to Leon Panetta for his comments:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWaLxFIVX1s

old word processing hardware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251623)

article reminds me of an electronic typewriter that had its own keyboard, screen and word processor. i think it had its ow floppy drive to save documents on it and its own printer too. i forgot the name or brand of the electronic typewriter.

Still hackable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44251671)

Ah, but the age-old problem of the ribbon can remain on ribbon units, even with a manual unit. The detective stories of yesteryear often involve reading the ribbon to see what was typed...one can sometimes even decipher the last paragraph from impressions on the rubber roller the keys strike.

Handwritten notes, written on a hard surface instead of a pad where impressions can be left, is a fairly "hack-proof" method.

If they're smart, they'll have a policy of burning the ribbons after typing a page of gobbledygook...every time the operator leaves the machine.

Re:Still hackable... (1)

Sparticus789 (2625955) | about a year ago | (#44251853)

The system you describe is used by many intelligence agencies and is also known as a one-time pad. However, those are only used for the most sensitive of information. My guess would be that these typewriters are not meant to replace one-time pads, but are being used so that when someone needs to write a report (say a report on the Russian intelligence gathering from Yahoo.ru, Google.ru, etc.) that they can only present the information on paper with no electronic record that can be stolen by a low-level contractor working as an analyst.

Protect the ribbons (4, Interesting)

T.E.D. (34228) | about a year ago | (#44251679)

In this modern era many people forget that typewriters had a *huge* security hole. The ink ribbons they used, in the right hands, were practically a "tape backup" of everything typed at that typewriter.

Re:Protect the ribbons (1)

EkriirkE (1075937) | about a year ago | (#44251957)

Moreso carbon deposit ribbons like what selectric used, the cloth & ink ones usually reversed and re-typed over previous letters several times before needing replacement

Re:Protect the ribbons (1)

mlts (1038732) | about a year ago | (#44252013)

I remember in the mid-1980s, some "word processors" which used dot-matrix printers, so one can type a line, backspace/edit that line, then once they hit return, the line gets printed, and that's that.

Maybe something similar, but using an inkjet printer instead?

Of course, there is always the issue of modern electronic devices having the ability to hide functionality a lot easier from than a mechanical device, but it might be a useful compromise.

It's not as unsecure as you'd think (1)

chemosh6969 (632048) | about a year ago | (#44251741)

Unlike a computer, a typewriter isn't going to get a keylogger installed by clicking on a link that's on a piece of paper. They're also within a security group, so there's some decent security going on with them. They aren't just leaving them out in unlocked buildings all day.

Re:It's not as unsecure as you'd think (2)

ponraul (1233704) | about a year ago | (#44252959)

You don't need to install a keylogger, it already has one built in; the ribbon.

Good in one sense (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#44252173)

I bet it improves the error rate. I learned to type on electric typewriters. As PCs took over for word processing, my error rate has gotten terrible. On an electric typewriter, making one mistake is a pain in the butt to fix, even with the ones that have the built-in correction tape.

The ultimate vulnerability (3, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about a year ago | (#44252189)

... is always people. Even if is just by stupidity (like going to one of those meetings with a cellphone), but could be plain malice, double agents or blackmailed "safe" people (and with all the data of the world you have plenty of material to blackmail anyone).

And thats the most worrying thing about NSA and associates snooping, you are getting 5 millon extra vulnerabilities [salon.com] in everything that surrounds all your data.

Pigeons (2)

cute_orc (2911555) | about a year ago | (#44252287)

I think it is right time to train pigeons.

Now all you need are two typewriters that are... (4, Interesting)

aristotle-dude (626586) | about a year ago | (#44252481)

joined by quantum entanglement and you can send messages across vast distances like they do in Fringe across universes.

They don't tell the whole story... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44252771)

Room 1. type document
Room 2. typed document is scanned and OCR is performed then a validation is performed, validated document is transferred to SD-card.
Room 3. SD-card read room, document is transferred from SD-card to FSO servers
Now all of the security cleared Duma members can read the document wherever they are in the world on their iPads or iPhones.

Is this really much safer (1)

phorm (591458) | about a year ago | (#44252811)

Than using a computer with no network connection?
I mean, you'd probably want to make sure it has no wifi, etc, but that could also be accomplished by putting it in a faraday cage of some sort.

How will the documents be distributed? (1)

ponraul (1233704) | about a year ago | (#44252947)

Typing them on an Underwood won't make it any more secure, if the documents are scanned and emailed.

Old School: (1)

Hartree (191324) | about a year ago | (#44253001)

I think I'd go with a manual in that situation, since electromechanical typewriters and teletypes have their own problems.

There was a lot of shielding and filtering put into crypto systems that used teletypes to avoid leaking information out the power leads, or radiating it directly.

I recall there being tempest rated versions of electric typewriters to avoid this. But a manual typewriter is an easy way around it.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>