OT: Report on Echelon surveillance capabilities

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Just thought you might be interested...


-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), May 11, 1999


This is an amazing document.


42. The same technique was re-used in 1995, when NSA became concerned about cryptographic security systems being built into Internet and E-mail software by Microsoft, Netscape and Lotus. The companies agreed to adapt their software to reduce the level of security provided to users outside the United States. In the case of Lotus Notes, which includes a secure e-mail system, the built-in cryptographic system uses a 64 bit encryption key. This provides a medium level of security, which might at present only be broken by NSA in months or years.

43. Lotus built in an NSA "help information" trapdoor to its Notes system, as the Swedish government discovered to its embarrassment in 1997. By then, the system was in daily use for confidential mail by Swedish MPs, 15,000 tax agency staff and 400,000 to 500,000 citizens. Lotus Notes incorporates a "workfactor reduction field" (WRF) into all e-mails sent by non US users of the system. Like its predecessor the Crypto AG "help information field" this device reduces NSA's difficulty in reading European and other e-mail from an almost intractable problem to a few seconds work. The WRF broadcasts 24 of the 64 bits of the key used for each communication. The WRF is encoded, using a "public key" system which can only be read by NSA. Lotus, a subsidiary of IBM, admits this. The company told Svenska Dagbladet:

"The difference between the American Notes version and the export version lies in degrees of encryption. We deliver 64 bit keys to all customers, but 24 bits of those in the version that we deliver outside of the United States are deposited with the American government".(94)

44. Similar arrangements are built into all export versions of the web "browsers" manufactured by Microsoft and Netscape. Each uses a standard 128 bit key. In the export version, this key is not reduced in length. Instead, 88 bits of the key are broadcast with each message; 40 bits remain secret. It follows that almost every computer in Europe has, as a built-in standard feature, an NSA workfactor reduction system to enable NSA (alone) to break the user's code and read secure messages.


This should be pleasant news for all our international contributors...

Good thing I have a dull life.

Thanks Shimrod.

-- Lewis (aslanshow@yahoo.com), May 11, 1999.

Big Brother is indeed listening! Best article on subject I've found is "Echelon: Exposing the Global Surveillance System" by Nicky Hager at:


I consider this article a "must-read" by all! If someone could provide the link - thanks!

-- (snowleopard6@webtv.net), May 11, 1999.

http://www .hamradio-online.com/1996/dec/echelon.html

-- regular (zzz@z.z), May 11, 1999.

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