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German NSA Committee May Turn To Typewriters To Stop Leaks

Unknown Lamer posted about 3 months ago | from the how-to-tell-wikileaks-is-winning dept.

Security 244

mpicpp (3454017) writes with news that Germany may be joining Russia in a paranoid switch from computers to typewriters for sensitive documents. From the article: Patrick Sensburg, chairman of the German parliament's National Security Agency investigative committee, now says he's considering expanding the use of manual typewriters to carry out his group's work. ... Sensburg said that the committee is taking its operational security very seriously. "In fact, we already have [a typewriter], and it's even a non-electronic typewriter," he said. If Sensburg's suggestion takes flight, the country would be taking a page out of the Russian playbook. Last year, the agency in charge of securing communications from the Kremlin announced that it wanted to spend 486,000 rubles (about $14,800) to buy 20 electric typewriters as a way to avoid digital leaks.

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So what? they can be tapped to. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455157)

My father used to work for the NSA as a cryptologic studies teacher and told me stories about how back in the 70s they had tech that could read back what was being typed simply by listening to the pattern of the clicks the type writer was making.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (4, Insightful)

jonwil (467024) | about 3 months ago | (#47455181)

The difference is that its a lot harder for the NSA to get a microphone into the office of a German agency (and a lot worse for international relations if the NSA did it and the Germans found out) than it is for the NSA to hack into the computers at a German agency from a computer room at Ft Meade.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (5, Interesting)

mjwalshe (1680392) | about 3 months ago | (#47455233)

The KGB have used Romeo spies to seduce the secretaries before now - one poor woman killed her self when she found out - the "Americans" series has this as a plot point.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1, Redundant)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47455413)

So did Clancy's Clear and Present Danger, if I'm not mistaken - only with Colombians.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455711)

That's what came to mind when I read GP. The "romeo" was actually a KGB-trained Cuban spymaster in that story and seduced the secretary of the director of the FBI. Been re-reading Clancy's Jack Ryan novels lately so it's fresh in my mind.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (4, Insightful)

fazig (2909523) | about 3 months ago | (#47455467)

Social Engineering.
Certainly, it's not as cost effective as other methods and requires elaborate planning. But no matter the technological level of advancement this has been, and most likely will continue to be, a very serious security threat. Simply because it targets a vulnerability that will be very hard to fix - our social, human nature.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (2)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 3 months ago | (#47455777)

No no no! Money's no object!

it wanted to spend 486,000 rubles
(about $14,800) to buy 20 electric typewriters as a way to avoid digital leaks.

While that seems like a lot, keep in mind the US government would commission electronic typewriters, making sure they had USB and WiFi and network printing capabilities and access to cloud storage and run Windows apps and Internet Explorer.

They would finally be delivered for $38k per unit about 12 years after everybody has a Matrix jack in their neck.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (5, Informative)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47455541)

Re the human factor.
Thats a huge risk in Germany. Generations of post ww2 Germans know nothing but helping the NSA and GCHQ over their decades in every level of the West and later German bureaucracies.
The men and woman who helped the UK and USA post 1950's would have chosen like minded staff to work with them or replace them.
Thats the entire upper structures of vital German security lost to 5+ other Five Eyes countries by default over decades.
Then you have the tame German political leaders watched, dropped, advanced thanks to insider help.
The East Germans got some staff next to generations of top West German political leaders or top NATO staff.
The US and UK got all the communication networks of West Germany and then Germany with the help of cleared Germans.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455283)

The difference is that its a lot harder for the NSA to get a microphone into the office of a German agency

Only if they make sure everyone leaves their cell phones out the door.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

cyber-vandal (148830) | about 3 months ago | (#47455307)

It's pretty easy to block phone signals.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455333)

Smart phones can record and upload later.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455833)

So... just make sure nobody leaves the bunker until whatever you're secretive about happens.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455295)

Worse international relations? The Obama Admin. has already crossed that line. The damage has been done. The US government compensated a double-agent who is working in the investigative committee that is investigating NSA activities in Germany.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/arrest-of-bnd-employee-strains-ties-between-germany-and-us-a-979738.html

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455429)

Why do you think there needs to be a microphone physically present in the room. There does not need to be, even if it is a manual typewriter and not an electric one, a laser off a room window will work just fine. Or one could simply activate the onboard mic on any computers in the room. Physical microphones need to be within about 100ft to work well. digital ones like lasers can be within a few miles. And yes I used to be a digital and physical forensics tech.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (2)

spacefight (577141) | about 3 months ago | (#47455591)

So, how hard do you think it is, to hack into a nearby computer (laptop, cell phone, building automation controller etc) and use that as a next hop to get an audio signal of the typewriter?

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455815)

You need a good microphone: The *intensity* and a lot of timing information is smeared, badly, by by the cheap A/D converters, downsampling, and general lack of a clue about how human hearing actually works rather than the pretty Nyquist theorems the cell phone designers learned as freshmen studying calculus. There are *reasons* most such systems suck so badly.

Re: So what? they can be tapped to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455221)

With all technolodgy at their disposal, I would assume germans can build quite noise-free typewriters. With a use of chemistry, probably comletely silent.

Re: So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 3 months ago | (#47455257)

could just as well use an old pc and bust the floppy drive..

Re: So what? they can be tapped to. (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47455417)

I've heard that a quill made of goose feathers is very soft and makes hardly any noise when writing...

Re: So what? they can be tapped to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455509)

With all technolodgy at their disposal, I would assume germans can build quite noise-free typewriters. With a use of chemistry, probably comletely silent.

Yes, they could.

Or, they could use what is already pretty silent. A pencil.

But hey no, let's invent the space pen again, just for the hell of it.

Re: So what? they can be tapped to. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455797)

Or a spell-checker. "Technolodgy"? Really?

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (2)

Megol (3135005) | about 3 months ago | (#47455349)

That is well known - even computer keyboards (where unlike mechanical typewriters each key use essentially the same mechanism) can be tapped using audio alone with reasonable good results. That spent color ribbons can be used to extract text is also well known.

This is just another layer of defense. Unlike the /. meme even security by obscurity can be a good defense when used in a multi-layer system.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455525)

That is well known - even computer keyboards (where unlike mechanical typewriters each key use essentially the same mechanism) can be tapped using audio alone with reasonable good results. That spent color ribbons can be used to extract text is also well known.

This is just another layer of defense. Unlike the /. meme even security by obscurity can be a good defense when used in a multi-layer system.

True. And defeating the vulnerabilities here are a lot more finite than trying to secure a computing system. White noise generator within a Faraday wrapped room and good security practice (physically destroy ribbons) would basically do it in this case.

Still all comes down to who can you trust in the end, no matter what the medium is.

Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455353)

He could tell the difference between say "and" and "the" on all makes and models of typewriters?

Who was he, Rain Man?

Re: Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455461)

He couldnt tell ... difference between "and" ... "the"? What are you tarded or something it doesn't take a genius to guess what "..." means.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (2)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 3 months ago | (#47455529)

In the 80's a UK bank experimented with signature recognition by listening to the pen on the paper. The dynamics and pressure etc were much harder to fake than the actual signature so it made sense but ultimately didn't go anywhere.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (2)

jandersen (462034) | about 3 months ago | (#47455645)

I always feel vaguely amused when people say that you 'just' or 'simply' do so and so. I'm pretty sure the Germans know that these things can be done - they are clever people, you know.

Of course it is possible to penetrate whatever security measures are put in place, but using simpler technology has advantages:

- simple technology is easier to screen for spying devices; there is no networking, no firmware with backdoors, etc
- it is less easy to make copies on an industrial scale, when things are typed on paper instead of being stored electronically
- it is riskier to try to steal information, when you have to be physically present

And of course, just because it is possible to guess what a person is typing from the sound emitted, that is probably only true for a subset of typewrites, and in any case, it only works when somebody is typing something. The typewriter can be moved around, so you would have to plant microphones everywhere; and then, of course, you'll have to record everything in the hope that you'll catch something useful. All in all, you'd have to make a significant effort, which would then be more easily spotted. Possible is not the same as feasible.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

physicsphairy (720718) | about 3 months ago | (#47455733)

Okay, but how are you going to conceal a microphone in a room that has gone purely mechanical? A computer gives off all sorts of RF, and is complex enough that there may be other tricky ways of getting information out. Not to mention that America may be the only source of processors and other components.

I'm sure the germans are capable of producing the typewriters completely in-house. Stick them in a well-shielded, soundproofed, unelectrified room, treat any signal as a bug, and it's much harder to get access to the information contined within, especially just by being clever with some transistors.

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (4, Funny)

StripedCow (776465) | about 3 months ago | (#47455757)

My father used to work for the NSA as a cryptologic studies teacher and told me stories about how back in the 70s they had tech that could read back what was being typed simply by listening to the pattern of the clicks the type writer was making.

Perhaps you can ask your father what this man was typing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

Re:So what? they can be tapped to. (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 3 months ago | (#47455793)

Electric and Electronic typewriters are far more susceptible to intercept as each key would generate a distinct RF signature and were much more suitable for spies.

Could one capture the same using a manual typewriter? Maybe. But, it would require highly sensitive and dynamic range microphones and recording technology to detect the sounds of the key being pressed vs the time it takes for the hammer to strike the paper and wait for the sound that it has returned of an older electric typewriter. SELECTRICs pose additional problems due to the use of the ball over a hammer. Additionally, with a manual typewriter, you can vary the timing by how hard you press and release the key.

Theoretically, you could bounce a laser off of a reflective surface to pick up sounds. Not sure how "hi-fi" it would be, though or whether it could detect the subtle signals.

Another device that was used was the Van Ekk device which could reproduce images displayed on a CRT monitor upwards of several hundred feet away. It's one reason secure locations are enclosed in a Faraday cage. Theoretically, you could monitor currents on the ground wire.

So, manual typewriters are still the most secure of the lot.

Dumpster diving. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455163)

Nice. Dumpster diving for used typewritter ink ribbons is back in fashion.

New Snowden (2)

clickety6 (141178) | about 3 months ago | (#47455173)

A suspected security mole was today apprehended with 5 reams of carbon copy paper...

Re:New Snowden (4, Funny)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 3 months ago | (#47455187)

5 reams of carbon copy paper contains much less information than a single USB stick.
This is security by volume.

Re:New Snowden (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47455425)

Given how extremely tiny a modern camera can be made, I'm not sure that's a lot of protection.

Re:New Snowden (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455245)

The mole was paid off. NSA antics are seriously pissing off Germany and this issue has become another foreign policy faux pas of this presidential administration. As goes Germany, so goes other EU countries. They're slowly turning away from the US. I don't think alienating allies is a smart thing to do, but what would you expect from a president who allows warrantless wiretapping?

Re:New Snowden (-1, Troll)

Megol (3135005) | about 3 months ago | (#47455323)

Yay! Another one of those "find all errors" post from my favorite author - Mr. Anonymous Coward!

The mole was paid off.

Nope. Score: -5 - unfounded.

NSA antics are seriously pissing off Germany and this issue has become another foreign policy faux pas of this presidential administration.

Yes (pissing off Germany) and no ("this presidential administration"). The spy program was put in place long before the current president was. Score: -2.

As goes Germany, so goes other EU countries.

Lol! Score: -6 - delusional.

They're slowly turning away from the US.

Yes. Score: +4 - obviously true.

I don't think alienating allies is a smart thing to do, but what would you expect from a president who allows warrantless wiretapping?

Hmm... This isn't due to the current US president. Score: -5 - idiot.

Total score: -5-2-6+4-5= -14
Here's your award for being a bad incoherent troll: . - yeah, the dot.

Re:New Snowden (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455455)

Boring troll. Since you're just posting as the Slashdot Dunce, I'll just reply to your "unfounded" claim, the remainder of your post is uninformed drivel.

Source is Spiegel Online:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/expulsion-of-cia-head-a-sign-of-tougher-german-response-to-spying-a-980912.html [spiegel.de]

Finally, police arrested Markus R. on Wednesday of the week before last. In his nine-hour interrogation, he apparently told the astonished investigators he had already been working for an American intelligence agency for two years. That relationship had also begun with an email, which he had sent to the US Embassy in Berlin, he explained. R. talked about clandestine meetings in Austria, at which he had allegedly been paid a total of €25,000 ($34,000).

He was paid 25,000 euros.

Four paragraphs down:

Markus R. is suspected of having handed over five files of material to the Americans. As the person in charge of filing and cryptography in his department, he had access to highly classified documents. It is believed that Markus R. smuggled hard copies of at least 218 documents out of his office, scanned them at home and edited them to conceal the source.

Have a nice day, Dunce.

Re:New Snowden (2)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 3 months ago | (#47455531)

He was paid 25,000 euros.

What an idiot. Destroying your career and going to jail for 25,000 euros for someone in a western country is pure idiocy.

foolproof (3, Funny)

chentiangemalc (1710624) | about 3 months ago | (#47455177)

It's a great security initiative! Everybody should do this. Considering it is impossible to electronically monitor what is typed on a manual type writer, and certainly it would be near impossible to copy the manually typed paper with today's technology.

Re:foolproof (4, Funny)

joh (27088) | about 3 months ago | (#47455207)

It would also significantly cut down Slashdot comments if they had to be typed on paper and mailed.

Re:foolproof (1)

MrDoh! (71235) | about 3 months ago | (#47455285)

Shares in correcting fluid would rocket.

Re:foolproof (1)

syockit (1480393) | about 3 months ago | (#47455403)

But what has been sent still cannot be retracted.

Re:foolproof (5, Funny)

some old guy (674482) | about 3 months ago | (#47455287)

True, but it would make "first post" a lovely double entendre.

Re:foolproof (1)

c (8461) | about 3 months ago | (#47455521)

It would also significantly cut down Slashdot comments if they had to be typed on paper and mailed.

First posted?

Re:foolproof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455217)

It will be much harder for NSA to copy, access or monitor physical documents than it is to hack their computers.

Re:foolproof (1)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 3 months ago | (#47455533)

In other news, sales of Minox spy cameras rise ten fold.

Re:foolproof (1)

John Da' Baddest (1686670) | about 3 months ago | (#47455265)

Not so near. See recent articles about Google Glass, and of course there are good old fashioned hidden cameras watching the typists. I suppose it more effort is required though.

Re:foolproof (1)

Wizardess (888790) | about 3 months ago | (#47455273)

I remember from the early 80s hearing about somebody able to decode a Selectric typewriter by its emissions, either electrical or acoustic. All your data are belong to us.

{O.O}

Re:foolproof (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 3 months ago | (#47455365)

I've been thinking about that. I wonder if it's possible to determine what is being typed from the sound of the keystrokes. Surely it's possible that there are minute differences between keystrokes from different keys?

Re:foolproof (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455483)

It's totally feasible for electric typewriters. It's pretty difficult for manual typewriters as they are less reproducible. Bad typists produce well-separated strokes but with more variation. Experienced typists have less variation but the sounds run into each other. But you'll be actually hard-put to find experienced manual typewriter typists outside of retirement homes anyway.

Photocopy (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47455193)

When they get photocopied for distribution a copy can easily go "missing" are the data file from the digital copier can be sent somewhere.

Re:Photocopy (2)

Zumbs (1241138) | about 3 months ago | (#47455293)

True, but it still requires continual physical access to sensitive areas as well as agents that continually steal and post copies, putting themselves at risk of exposure every time.

Re:Photocopy (1)

chalkyj (927554) | about 3 months ago | (#47455321)

Or photograph/scan them. It's not like being in physical form prevents instant digitisation, especially with how good OCR tech is now.

Re:Photocopy (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 3 months ago | (#47455331)

When they get photocopied for distribution

You just said photocopied for distribution. The digital photocopier takes an image of the document and then reproduces it ---- the photocopier is a perfect place to save a copy of the image to a hard drive or USB stick for later dissemination/leakage.

Re:Photocopy (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 3 months ago | (#47455375)

Isn't that what I just said? I guess you got distracted half way through the sentence. And people say I have a short attention span. ;-)

Photocopy (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47455473)

Countries have lost aircraft designs and lack of photocopy paper counts did allow the Soviet Union to get material from the UK in bulk.
A trusted person with access to paper work is a huge risk.

Leaks or spying? (2)

jovius (974690) | about 3 months ago | (#47455195)

Using typewriters will definitely make spying the documents a bit harder, but leaking them is as easy as ever. The next level could be a new version of watermarked paper, which knows when it has been accessed or photographed.
 

Secure until it gets fax'd or scan'd and email'd (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455205)

And of course there are type writer ribbons to destroy and so forth.

But on the whole, it forces spying back to having physical access to the document and that's not a bad security mechanism.

Secure until it gets fax'd or scan'd and email'd (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47455507)

After East Germany lost its entire Western spy network early on due to the files been given to West Germany they thought about what their next file system would be like.
They broke the structure down so that eg 3 files would be stored in separated physical areas. If you wanted the full file you needed top staff to turn up in person to put a spies full background together. Later East Germany went digital and the CIA walked out with all the East German spy contact files from a safe.
You can also share slightly altered data in each page with "trusted" staff. A test to see what turns up in the media or gets reflected back at a friendly nations embassy.
No looking up computer master files to compare and see the changes, thats your own/only page.

Doesn't sound German to me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455213)

It looks like Germany really has gone muslim because no German I know would resort to ludition. Next no titties on Stern, and no schools for girls.

ib4 voodoo key sound decription (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 3 months ago | (#47455227)

A phone or nearby computer will be hacked and the secrets will be extracted by recording with the mic the relative sounds of the typewriter keys.

Alternative strategy: (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#47455235)

Couldn't they just buy a bunch of computers with no network hardware whatsoever?

Re:Alternative strategy: (4, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | about 3 months ago | (#47455249)

Even if the computers have no network connectivity, their screens and keystrokes may spied on through a Tempest [wikipedia.org] attack by an adversary in the vicinity. Buying typewriters may be cheaper than Tempest shielding.

Re:Alternative strategy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455327)

Even cheaper and harder to spy on - pen and paper.

Re:Alternative strategy: (1)

kruach aum (1934852) | about 3 months ago | (#47455427)

Magicians train themselves in pencil reading, so that they can tell what you write from the movements of the pencil.

Re:Alternative strategy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455481)

And, of course, that is scalable and as dependable as analyzing network traffic.

Re:Alternative strategy: (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 3 months ago | (#47455691)

Yes. Just add more magicians.

And, as an extra bonus, for a sufficient amount of network traffic, you'd have both the analysis and the complete works of Shakespeare.

Re:Alternative strategy: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455435)

You were modded informative, you should have been modded naive. Acoustic tapping via mic or laser has existed for a few decades. I built my first laser mike for the PI I worked for in the 90's, before that we bought them from certain trade supply shops.

Re:Alternative strategy: (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47455431)

Isn't TEMPEST defeated today by simple HDCP, or another system of transferring image data encrypted? The display itself should be reasonably shieldable.

Re:Alternative strategy: (2)

Krymzn (1812686) | about 3 months ago | (#47455445)

Acoustic keyloggers (http://www.keylogger101.com/acoustic-keyloggers/) could be used to detect which typewriter keys are being pressed (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keystroke_logging).

Re:Alternative strategy: (2)

c (8461) | about 3 months ago | (#47455511)

Buying typewriters may be cheaper than Tempest shielding.

Of course, they do have to work a lot harder to avoid someone just eavedropping on the keypresses [wikipedia.org] ...

Alternative strategy: (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 3 months ago | (#47455441)

"Couldn't they just buy a bunch of computers with no network hardware whatsoever?"
The NSA and GCHQ can cover that air gap with some extra hardware added when shipped.
A tiny burst wireless then sends logged text over a short range to a waiting collection device for storage or other networking.
"NSA Spying Includes Wireless Transmitters To Get Data Off 'Air Gapped' Computers" (Jan 14, 2014)
https://www.techdirt.com/artic... [techdirt.com]
ie the ideas behind RF transceivers eg SPECULATION, HOWLERMONKEY and CONJECTURE
NSA Codenames
http://cryptome.org/2014/01/ns... [cryptome.org]

Re:Alternative strategy: (1)

Half-pint HAL (718102) | about 3 months ago | (#47455805)

Which is why you don't source the hardware via US companies. Maybe they should switch to German-built Raspberry Pi clones in in transparent cases.

I suggest... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455251)

using secret ink so the paper blank until you hold it over a candle. We used to do that as kids.

Re:I suggest... (1)

Chrisq (894406) | about 3 months ago | (#47455355)

using secret ink so the paper blank until you hold it over a candle. We used to do that as kids.

I suggest, since they are going back to "old school tech" they should use the "Mission impossible" reel to reel taprecorder that catches alight once played. Maybe Apple are working on a digital version [appleinsider.com] .

Don't forget to burn the ribbon (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455253)

Oh there's so many vulnerabilities with electric typewriters, especially the single-use ribbon.

Manual typewriters with a fabric ribbon that is re-used might still need to be burned.

Re:Don't forget to burn the ribbon (1)

vidarlo (134906) | about 3 months ago | (#47455387)

Oh there's so many vulnerabilities with electric typewriters, especially the single-use ribbon. Manual typewriters with a fabric ribbon that is re-used might still need to be burned.

Yes, there is security vulnerabilities. But compared to a computer, containing millions of lines of code, and the capability of running arbitary software, a typewriter is a very simple envirorment, with fewer unknown and bugs.

Securing a simple envirorment is easier than securing the complex. Take a Selectric typewriter - you can check the software manually as it's probably quite short. You can easily verify it, and there is NO reason why any other software should be present. This is not the case with a computer.

Or mechanical typewriter - no software, so the only storage mechanism is the ribbon.

So yeah, a bit of physical security is needed. The ribbons needs to be handled as classified. The drums may contain imprints, and neads to destructed safely. Sound might reveal something, so the room needs soundproofing and checks for unwanted bugs. But compared to a computer, it's quite trivial, and the security is within the reach of even a small organization.

Re:Don't forget to burn the ribbon (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47455437)

Manual typewriters with a fabric ribbon that is re-used might still need to be burned.

Except they won't burn easily, given that they're often made of metal.

Re:Don't forget to burn the ribbon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455555)

Manual typewriters with a fabric ribbon that is re-used might still need to be burned.

Except they won't burn easily, given that they're often made of metal.

Pretty sure that fabric would dissolve nicely in some kind of acid bath. No flame necessary.

GCHQ and the NSA... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455289)

Working together to return the world back to the stone age!

Re:GCHQ and the NSA... (1)

RotateLeftByte (797477) | about 3 months ago | (#47455329)

In other news, Reuters reported that Stonemasons were in huge demand for 'tablet' work.

Re:GCHQ and the NSA... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455683)

but when you really need to ensure some one goes back to the stone age
"If you have a stone age problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can send the Marines."

I enthusiastically approve (3, Insightful)

petrus4 (213815) | about 3 months ago | (#47455347)

I salute the German government in adopting this measure, quite seriously. I am migrating to virtualised NetBSD/amd64 myself, and aside from using pkgsrc in order to install Xorg, am probably going to rely on manual installation of packages in named directories in either /usr/local or /opt.

I fully believe that maximising simplicity, to the point of adopting seemingly primitive solutions, is the most effective means of maintaining reliability and security. There truly is no school like the old school. Others can call me a Luddite if they wish, but that is a title that I will wear with pride.

Re:I enthusiastically approve (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 3 months ago | (#47455443)

Learn to use Oberon. :]

Re:I enthusiastically approve (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455723)

Fool. [bell-labs.com]

Re:I enthusiastically approve (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455751)

You did personally review all of the source code right?

Xerox called (2)

laffer1 (701823) | about 3 months ago | (#47455397)

Wait until they here about copy machines!

Re:Xerox called (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 3 months ago | (#47455701)

Here, here!

Good side effect? (1)

The Evil Atheist (2484676) | about 3 months ago | (#47455401)

With computers, you can store vast amounts of data and run a lot of analysis on it. With paper, not so much. Good for the privacy conscious citizen.

Re:Good side effect? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455565)

You realize there is an entire industry dedicated to connecting scanners to DMS's.

The one thing to take away from this (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455409)

Turning to typewriters is of course ridiculous blind activism, but there is one thing to take away from this: The mere possibility that someone is spying on them has made them uneasy about using normal and efficient tools and made them turn to antiquated tools instead which still won't protect them. Perhaps now they understand why blanket observation of the entire population is completely unacceptable.

Get a doctor (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455415)

Get a doctor to write memos with a pen. Completely indecipherable.

The problem is.... (5, Funny)

Lumpy (12016) | about 3 months ago | (#47455459)

Once they are done typing the documents they will have a secretary scan them and sent via email....

Re:The problem is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455545)

This is exactly what I was thinking.
Either way, you have to distribute the document, so at some point someone will be able to distribute it.

What are the Germans hiding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455547)

What are they hiding that they have to go to Unibomber levels of paranio to hide? If they don't have anything to hide...

Handwriting (1)

eric31415927 (861917) | about 3 months ago | (#47455623)

Physician handwriting is as indecipherable as Navajo code talk.

Bad bad bad! (1)

mnt (1796310) | about 3 months ago | (#47455639)

With "to stop the leaks" they mean "to stop privacy advocates getting proof that the committee is doing _nothing_ against the NSA".

Its a step in "rightish" direction (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47455663)

The trick is to use technology so alien from the attacker that they can't interface with it.

To that end, I think it would be more practical to redesign certain computer systems especially involving networking.

Totally alien networking protocols. Stuff so different that nothing else on earth can interface with it or even knows how it works.

I'm talking about something beyond encryption. Totally divergent interface languages. Different to the machine code level. Ideally with no precedent.

And while you're at it, consider using "one time pad" type encryption keys for the exchange of larger encryption keys. Something that even if intercepted could not be decrypted... literally impossible.

Do that and any attacker can sit on their thumbs and spin.

Hipsters... (1)

karpis (1375295) | about 3 months ago | (#47455699)

Just don't go to park, You crazy security hipsters! http://www.jessicafreyphotogra... [jessicafre...hyblog.com]

Just bloody airgap everything and faraday cage! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47455803)

Such pointlessness. Airgap the damn building and faraday it up, done, sorted.

This won't stop someone taking and photocopying documents!
This system is considerably LESS SECURE because you can't log accesses. You call that flimsy wall card scanner secure?
What happens when someones card is stolen without them knowing? Boom, enjoy your broken security.

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