Computer underground Digest Sun Aug 23, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 38 Editors: Jim Thomas and G
Computer underground Digest Sun Aug 23, 1992 Volume 4 : Issue 38
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Copy Editor: Etaion Shrdlu, III
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Shadow-Archivist: Dan Carosone
CONTENTS, #4.38 (Aug 23, 1992)
File 1--Retraction & apology to Ripco
File 2--THE GARBAGE DUMP BBS Purges Adult Gifs
File 3--Canada busts Pirate
File 4--Lotus NYT As against Borland
File 5--Secret Service -- the TV show
File 6--"The Hacker Files" Comic Book
File 7--ZEN AND THE ART OF THE INTERNET (Review 1)
File 8--ZEN AND THE ART OF THE INTERNET (Review 2)
File 9--CPSR Letter on Crypto Policy
Cu-Digest is a weekly electronic journal/newsletter. Subscriptions are
available at no cost from email@example.com. The editors may be
contacted by voice (815-753-6430), fax (815-753-6302) or U.S. mail at:
Jim Thomas, Department of Sociology, NIU, DeKalb, IL 60115.
Issues of CuD can also be found in the Usenet comp.society.cu-digest
news group; on CompuServe in DL0 and DL4 of the IBMBBS SIG, DL1 of
LAWSIG, and DL0 and DL12 of TELECOM; on Genie in the PF*NPC RT
libraries; from America Online in the PC Telecom forum under
"computing newsletters;" on the PC-EXEC BBS at (414) 789-4210; and by
anonymous ftp from ftp.eff.org (126.96.36.199) and ftp.ee.mu.oz.au
European distributor: ComNet in Luxembourg BBS (++352) 466893.
COMPUTER UNDERGROUND DIGEST is an open forum dedicated to sharing
information among computerists and to the presentation and debate of
diverse views. CuD material may be reprinted as long as the source
is cited. Some authors do copyright their material, and they should
be contacted for reprint permission. It is assumed that non-personal
mail to the moderators may be reprinted unless otherwise specified.
Readers are encouraged to submit reasoned articles relating to
computer culture and communication. Articles are preferred to short
responses. Please avoid quoting previous posts unless absolutely
DISCLAIMER: The views represented herein do not necessarily represent
the views of the moderators. Digest contributors assume all
responsibility for ensuring that articles submitted do not
violate copyright protections.
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 1992 11:41:44 -0600
Subject: File 1--Retraction & apology to Ripco
((MODERATORS' NOTE: CuD #4.37 reported an inadvertent, but
unfortunate, phrasing of a reference to Ripco BBS, in an article in
Privacy Times. We contacted the editor, Evan Hendricks, who shared our
concern. He indicated that, if CuD's version of events were correct,
he would rectify the mistake. His response is below may be one reason
why Privacy Times is judged by many as as a first-rate and reputable
resource. His response should also be an example of integrity for
The following retraction was printed in the Aug. 21, 1992 issue of
In the previous issue, Privacy Times reported incorrectly that a
manual for breaking into TRW's credit bureau database was published on
the Ripco bulletin board. In fact, Ripco officials refused to publish
it. Our mistake was made worse by the fact that Ripco had been the
previous victim of unwarranted government persecution after
controversial matters were published on the board, sources said.
Privacy Times apologizes for this mistake. We regret any misconceptions
that this may have caused.
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 92 15:46:13 MDT
From: bbx!yenta!weenie@UNMVAX.CS.UNM.EDU(Dean Kerl)
Subject: File 2--THE GARBAGE DUMP BBS Purges Adult Gifs
FOR RELEASE AUGUST 17, 1992
GARBAGE DUMP BBS PURGES ADULT GRAPHIC FILES
DataSafe, owners and operators of The Garbage Dump Bulletin Board
Service (BBS) in Albuquerque, NM and Denver, CO announce the immediate
removal of all adult graphic files from its online service. This
action was taken to free up system and personnel resources which will
be used to enhance and expand current services such as DOS, Windows
and OS/2 shareware downloadable files. Shareware files will be
promoted as a primary product along with interactive chat, message
areas and online multiplayer games.
Simon Clement, VP of Marketing said, "These graphic files have never
been an integral part of our business and this action will allow us to
market to a much wider audience. We feel that this new market strategy
will position us to serve more customers with better and more valuable
services. We would like to encourage our customers to continue using
our expanding services. Any customer who is dissatisfied with our
market emphasis will be given a full refund, on request, for any time
remaining on their account."
The Garbage Dump BBS will continue to offer and promote uncensored
Chat, E-mail, and Message Areas. This uncensored format allows for
open discussion of a wide range of controversial topics including
politics, consumer issues, freedom of speech, alternative lifestyles
and current events.
The Garbage Dump BBS can be reached via modem in Albuquerque, NM at
(505)-294-5675 and in Denver, CO at (303)-457-1111. If you have any
questions about our new policy or would like further information about
our services, please contact Dean Kerl at (505)-294-4980 Voice.
Date: 20 Aug 92 21:41:18 EDT
From: Gordon Meyer <72307.1502@COMPUSERVE.COM>
Subject: File 3--Canada busts Pirate
Centre d'ordinateurs Microbec, a chain of four computer stores, has
been handed the largest software-copyright fine in the province's
history. The company was fined C$63,000 for selling computers loaded
with illegal copies of the MS-DOS operating system.
The fine is not the worst of it for Microbec. When the Royal Canadian
Mounted Police raided the company last October, they seized about 140
computers carrying the illegal software as evidence. Since the
company was convicted, the seized hardware will not be returned, said
Allan Reynolds, manager of the Canadian Alliance Against Software
Theft (CAAST), a Toronto-based group of major software vendors set up
to fight software piracy. Reynolds said the value of the seized
computers is "more than double the fine amount in terms of revenue
value." (Reprinted from ST Report 8.33 with permission)
Date: Thu, 20 Aug 92 11:49:51 PDT
Subject: File 4--Lotus NYT As against Borland
In case you missed it, there was a full page ad by Lotus in the August
20 issue of the New York Times (Business section, p. 3) about their
lawsuit against Borland. With a banner headline saying "There's
nothing innovative about copying, parts of it read:
On Friday, July 31, 1992, a U.S. District Court ruled that
Borland's Quattro(r) and Quattro Pro(r) spreadsheets infringe the
copyrights of Lotus(r) 1-2-3.
In its ruling, the court concluded tht "...the Quattro programs
derive from illicit copying," holding that "Lotus has sued" and
"Borland is liable."
Lotus goes for the jugular in the ad. In a large-print subhead, it
announces: "_Lotus innovated. Borland copied," and another says: "Who
should you trust?" The ad concludes:
But perhaps most importantly, Borland lost what matters most to
customers: credibility. For instance, Borland told the Court they
needed to copy our menus to achieve macro compatibility with
1-2-3. Now they tell their customers that the 1-2-3 menus aren't
critical to compatibility.
So ask yourself: To what extent can you trust a company that
values what is expedient over what is legal? And to what extent
can you rely on the product it wants you to buy?
Here's our advice: Choose the product, and the company, you can
trust. Choose Lotus. After all, we're the best in the business at
building innovative spreadsheets. Always hae been, always will
Date: 17 Aug 1992 12:24:24 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stephen Tihor 212 998 3052
Subject: File 5--Secret Service -- the TV show
Last night NBC broadcast an episode of "Secret Service" in NY at least
that featured a straightforwards nut who wants to kill the President
plot and then a rather confusing account of their high technology
defense of a fuzzy city power system against sabotage by a fired
I hope someone taped it and caught the exact wording of the disclaimer
at the end because it was hard to follow the logic and determine what
was the original incident and what was Hollywoodisms.
The piece was prefaced with a brief discussion some of the risks of
The expert quickly diagnosed the problem as a VIRUS. Persistent
references to virus in the context of a electric power control system
seemed odd. Since they appeared to be running pre-existing VIRUS
checking software on the system one might suspect the "main frame" was
an IBM PC or Apple Macintosh running standard software rather than a
real time control system or perhaps something larger and safer.
Interesting references were made to viruses lurking WITHIN modems.
Then they identified the source of the attacking codes as the local
font storage in what appeared to be a old DECwriter dot matrix
With some external clues the agents attempt to confront the criminal
in house, which is wired with many falling metal screen, sounds
effects, and gas but which lacks reinforced walls. The culprit is
classic middle aged computer geek who appears uncaring about possible
loss of life although the agents do not mention to him the risk of a
life sentence of death penalty of others die as a result of his
sabotage. He refuses to help them disarm the problem.
The expert has announced that this is a logic bomb and eventually
realizes that since the bug code is not in the copy of the system on
disk as long as they shutdown without writing memory to disk they can
reboot bug free. So a brief deliberate blackout is used to save the
I am obvious very curious about the TRUE FACTs of this can if the show
plans to show such other SS triumphs in the war on electronic crime as
almost destroying Steve Jackson Games.
Date: Fri, 21 Aug 92 09:18:22 MDT
From: firstname.lastname@example.org(queen's gambit)
Subject: File 6--"The Hacker Files" Comic Book
_The Hacker Files_, if you've missed them, is the name of a new DC
comic book. At $1.95 each, I plunked down my six bucks and took the
first three of the 24 page monthly back to my digs and zap through
them between hacks. Reading took a lot less time than I thought. I
should have watched a double showing of Ishtar instead.
The premise of the story, which is continued in serial form from one
issue to the next, is that a virus has invaded Arpanet and threatens
the Pentagon's computer system and could trigger a nuclear set-to. No
matter that the collapse of Russia stretches the credibility of the
Dr. Strangelove plot. The hacker-not-cracker hero is Jack Marshall, a
scruffy looking peacenik who dresses in a t-shirt with a prominent
peace sign, jeans, and an army shirt-as-jacket. He's been dismissed
from his last company, Digitronix, under mysterious circumstances and
was black-balled from the industry. Digitronix, coincidentally,
installed the Pentagon's computers, and Jack Marshall, coincidentally,
wrote the operating system for it before his dismissal. Not
coincidentally, there's friction between Marshall and the Digitronix
crowd when he pops on the scene. Not coincidentally, this friction
may or may not have something to do with the plot in coming issues.
Marshall, handle of "Hacker," calls a few of his younger hacker
friends (Sue Denim and Dr. Zen) to help track down the virus planter.
Was it some curious kids? Was it Digitronix? Was it some nasty foreign
government? Do we really care?
I'm not sure who _The Hacker Files- is aimed at. It presents a rather
sympathetic view of hackers, so it's probably aimed at a younger,
techno-sophisticated audience. The unfolding of the plot is too slow
and twisted to hold the attention of the MTV generation, and pre-teens
would probably find the story line incomprehensible. The dialogue in
the book is R-rated, with "bullshits" and "goddamns" liberally
sprinkled in. The graphics include unnecessary snapshot scenes of
houses and neighborhoods that probably are intended for a touch of
realism, but do nothing but take up space. At 12 cents a page, the
space could be better used. The ads every few pages are distracting.
Simulated computer screens showing what the characters see on the
screen abound, but they don't add anything except maybe some vicarious
thrill for kids. The story line needs a stronger set of ideas
describing hackers and their activities and some coherent purpose in
using a hacker as hero or villain. The characters, except for the
youngest hackers, aren't either exciting or sympathetic, and like
Gertrude Stein said about Oakland, after three issues there just ain't
no there there.
As I see it, the "to be continued" format is just a device to entice
readers to get the next issue, but it's is as lame and drawn out as
the first three, the promised "conclusion" in the fourth issue will be
Date: 20 Aug 1992 09:46:11 U
Subject: File 7--ZEN AND THE ART OF THE INTERNET (Review 1)
((MODERATORS' NOTE: The following two posts review ZEN AND THE ART OF
THE INTERNET: A BEGINNER'S GUIDE, by Brendan P. Kehoe. Englewood
Cliffs (N.J.): Prentice-Hall. 122 pp. $22 (paper).))
Brendan Kehoe's _Zen and the Art of the Internet: A Beginner's Guide_
is an eminently usable handbook of information and tips for navigating
the Internet. Despite its title, beginners aren't the only ones who
can benefit from it. The novice will enjoy it as a guided tour of the
net; more experienced netters will find it a valuable resource as an
all-in-one-place source for tips and tricks.
Although some of his examples do betray an excessive fondness for
Unix, Kehoe stays for the most part platform-neutral, so anyone can
benefit from this book. All the basics are covered: email, FTP,
Usenet and Telnet; plus some of everybody's favorite fun things, such
as Finger, Ping, Talk and WHOIS.
One of the more interesting sections is Chapter 4, which is given over
entirely to explaining Usenet. Besides describing what Usenet is ("a
set of machines that exchange articles"), it also tells what Usenet is
not ("an organization," "the Internet," "fair"). Here the author
really seems to swing into his own; he's obviously very comfortable in
the world of newsgroups and this is some of his best writing. Although
the entire book is readable and easy to comprehend, it's fun in the
Usenet chapter. Perhaps echoing the anarchy of Usenet itself, Kehoe's
prose takes on a slightly more freewheeling bent, and his advice,
never heavy-handed, becomes more lively.
_Zen_ is also crammed with factoids that are great to know, but
sometimes hard to remember, such as directions for telnetting into the
Naval Observatory Automated Data Service and listings of email
gateways to. For the beginner, these are great guideposts for learning
what's what; the veteran will appreciate having a ready reference to
Like most people, I had to learn net behavior the hard way, but maybe
future generations will be spared this trauma by reading the section
on netiquette. Although having a more aware crop of newbies entering
the net may not be as amusing to the old timers, it has the potential
for freeing up substantial chunks of bandwidth that were previously
occupied by flames sent to the clueless ones.
One feature of the book that could still stand some improvement is the
appearance of the printed text itself. According to Kehoe, it was
output on a 300 dpi laser. In the mid-1980's that was a great "taking
control of our own property" kind of statement, but now it's easy to
get much higher-quality text out of felt that a book of this quality
deserved more attractive typefaces and higher-res output, such as what
could have easily been obtained from a Linotronic imagesetter.
However, this is a minor qualm and no reason for missing _Zen and the
Art of the Internet_. It's a book to keep handy by the computer,
whether you are a hardened veteran or a net.virgin. Although clearly
slanted towards the novice, there's lots here for everyone. I wish I'd
had it by my side when I first got on the net; it would have saved
asking a million clueless FAQs.
Date: Wed, 20 Aug 92 18:01:31 CDT
From: Jim Thomas
Subject: File 9--CPSR Letter on Crypto Policy
CPSR Letter on Crypto Policy
The following is the text of a letter Computer Professionals for
Social Responsibility (CPSR) recently sent to Rep. Jack Brooks,
chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. The letter raises several
issues concerning computer security and cryptography policy. For
additional information on CPSR's activities in this area, contact
email@example.com. For information concerning CPSR generally
(including membership information), contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
August 11, 1992
Representative Jack Brooks
House Judiciary Committee
2138 Rayburn House Office Bldg.
Washington, DC 20515-6216
Dear Mr. Chairman:
Earlier this year, you held hearings before the Subcommittee on
Economic and Commercial Law on the threat of foreign economic
espionage to U.S. corporations. Among the issues raised during the
hearings were the future of computer security authority and the
efforts of government agencies to restrict the use of new
technologies, such as cryptography.
As a national organization of computer professionals interested
in the policies surrounding civil liberties and privacy, including
computer security and cryptography, CPSR supports your efforts to
encourage public dialogue of these matters. Particularly as the
United States becomes more dependent on advanced network technologies,
such as cellular communications, the long-term impact of proposed
restrictions on privacy-enhancing techniques should be carefully
explored in a public forum.
When we had the opportunity to testify before the Subcommittee on
Legislation and National Security in May 1989 on the enforcement of
the Computer Security Act of 1987, we raised a number of these issues.
We write to you now to provide new information about the role of the
National Security Agency in the development of the Digital Signature
Standard and the recent National Security Directive on computer
security authority. The information that we have gathered suggests
that further hearings are necessary to assess the activities of the
National Security Agency since passage of the Computer Security Act of
The National Security Agency
and the Digital Signature Standard
Through the Freedom of Information Act, CPSR has recently learned
that the NSA was the driving force behind the selection and
development of the Digital Signature Standard (DSS). We believe that
the NSA's actions contravene the Computer Security Act of 1987. We
have also determined that the National Institute of Standards and
Technology (NIST) attempted to shield the NSA's role in the
development of the DSS from public scrutiny.
The Digital Signature Standard will be used for the
authentication of computer messages that travel across the public
computer network. Its development was closely watched in the computer
science community. Questions about the factors leading to the
selection of the standard were raised by a Federal Register notice, 56
Fed. Reg. 42, (Aug 30, 1991), in which NIST indicated that it had
considered the impact of the proposed standard on "national security
and law enforcement," though there was no apparent reason why these
factors might be considered in the development of a technical standard
for communications security.
In August 1991, CPSR filed a FOIA request with the National
Institute of Standards and Technology seeking all documentation
relating to the development of the DSS. NIST denied our request in
its entirety. The agency did not indicate that they had responsive
documents from the National Security Agency in their files, as they
were required to do under their own regulations. 15 C.F.R. Sec.
4.6(a)(4) (1992). In October 1991, we filed a similar request for
documents concerning the development of the DSS with the Department of
Defense. The Department replied that they were forwarding the request
to the NSA, from whom we never received even an acknowledgement of our
In April 1992, CPSR filed suit against NIST to force disclosure
of the documents. CPSR v. NIST, et al., Civil Action No. 92-0972-RCL
a result of that lawsuit, NIST released 140 out of a total of 142
pages. Among those documents is a memo from Roy Saltman to Lynn
McNulty which suggests that there were better algorithms available
than the one NIST eventually recommended for adoption. If that is so,
why did NIST recommend a standard that its own expert believed was
Further, NIST was required under Section 2 of the Computer
Security Act to develop standards and guidelines to "assure the
cost-effective security and privacy of sensitive information in
federal systems." However, the algorithm selected by NIST as the DSS
was purposely designed to minimize privacy protection: its use is
limited to message authentication. Other algorithms that were
considered by NIST included both the ability to authenticate messages
and the capability to incorporate privacy-enhancing features. Was
NSA's interest in communication surveillance one of the factors that
lead to the NIST decision to select an algorithm that was useful for
authentication, but not for communications privacy?
Most significantly, NIST also disclosed that 1,138 pages on the
DSS that were created by the NSA were in their files and were being
sent back to the NSA for processing. Note that only 142 pages of
material were identified as originating with NIST. In addition, it
appears that the patent for the DSS is filed in the name of an NSA
The events surrounding the development of the Digital Signature
Standard warrant further Congressional investigation. When Congress
passed the Computer Security Act, it sought to return authority for
technical standard-setting to the civilian sector. It explicitly
rejected the proposition that NSA should have authority for developing
Since work on technical standards represents virtually
all of the research effort being done today, NSA would
take over virtually the entire computer standards job
from the [National Institute of Standards and
Technology]. By putting the NSA in charge of developing
technical security guidelines (software, hardware,
communications), [NIST] would be left with the
responsibility for only administrative and physical
security measures -- which have generally been done
years ago. [NIST], in effect, would on the surface be
given the responsibility for the computer standards
program with little to say about the most important part
of the program -- the technical guidelines developed by
Government Operation Committee Report at 25-26, reprinted in 1988 U.S.
Code Cong. and Admin. News at 3177-78. See also Science Committee
Report at 27, reprinted in 1988 U.S.C.A.N. 3142.
Despite the clear mandate of the Computer Security Act, NSA does,
indeed, appear to have assumed the lead role in the development of the
DSS. In a letter to MacWeek magazine last fall, NSA's Chief of
Information Policy acknowledged that the Agency "evaluated and
provided candidate algorithms including the one ultimately selected by
NIST." Letter from Michael S. Conn to Mitch Ratcliffe, Oct. 31, 1991.
By its own admission, NSA not only urged the adoption of the DSS -- it
actually "provided" the standard to NIST.
The development of the DSS is the first real test of the
effectiveness of the Computer Security Act. If, as appears to be the
case, NSA was able to develop the standard without regard to
recommendations of NIST, then the intent of the Act has clearly been
Congress' intent that the standard-setting process be open to
public scrutiny has also been frustrated. Given the role of NSA in
developing the DSS, and NIST's refusal to open the process to
meaningful public scrutiny, the public's ability to monitor the
effectiveness of the Computer Security Act has been called into
On a related point, we should note that the National Security
Agency also exercised its influence in the development of an important
standard for the digital cellular standards committee. NSA's
influence was clear in two areas. First, the NSA ensured that the
privacy features of the proposed standard would be kept secret. This
effectively prevents public review of the standard and is contrary to
principles of scientific research.
The NSA was also responsible for promoting the development of a
standard that is less robust than other standards that might have been
selected. This is particularly problematic as our country becomes
increasingly dependent on cellular telephone services for routine
business and personal communication.
Considering the recent experience with the DSS and the digital
standard, we can anticipate that future NSA involvement in the
technical standards field will produce two results: (1) diminished
privacy protection for users of new communications technologies, and
(2) restrictions on public access to information about the selection
of technical standards. The first result will have severe
consequences for the security of our advanced communications
infrastructure. The second result will restrict our ability to
recognize this problem.
However, these problems were anticipated when Congress first
considered the possible impact of President Reagan's National Security
Decision Directive on computer security authority, and chose to
develop legislation to promote privacy and security and to reverse
efforts to limit public accountability.
National Security Directive 42
Congressional enactment of the Computer Security Act was a
response to President Reagan's issuance of National Security Decision
Directive ("NSDD") 145 in September 1984. It was intended to reverse
an executive policy that enlarged classification authority and
permitted the intelligence community broad say over the development of
technical security standards for unclassified government and
non-government computer systems and networks. As noted in the
committee report, the original NSDD 145 gave the intelligence
community new authority to set technical standards in the private
[u]nder this directive, the Department of Defense (DOD)
was given broad new powers to issue policies and
standards for the safeguarding of not only classified
information, but also other information in the civilian
agencies and private sector which DOD believed should be
protected. The National Security Agency (NSA), whose
primary mission is one of monitoring foreign
communications, was given the responsibility of
managing this program on a day-to-day basis.
H. Rep. No. 153 (Part 2), 100th Cong., 1st Sess. 6 (1987). The
legislation was specifically intended to override the Presidential
directive and to "greatly restrict these types of activities by the
military intelligence agencies ... while at the same time providing a
statutory mandate for a strong security program headed up by [NIST], a
civilian agency." Id. at 7.
President Bush issued National Security Directive ("NSD") 42 on
July 5, 1990. On July 10, 1990, Assistant Secretary of Defense Duane
P. Andrews testified before the House Subcommittee on Transportation,
Aviation, and Materials on the contents of the revised NSD. The
Assistant Secretary stated that the "the new policy is fully compliant
with the Computer Security Act of 1987 (and the Warner Amendment) and
clearly delineates the responsibilities within the Federal Government
for national security systems."
On August 27, 1990, CPSR wrote to the Directorate for Freedom of
Information of the Department of Defense and requested a copy of the
revised NSD, which had been described by an administration official at
the July hearing but had not actually been disclosed to the public.
CPSR subsequently sent a request to the National Security Council
seeking the same document. When both agencies failed to reply in a
timely fashion, CPSR filed suit seeking disclosure of the Directive.
CPSR v. NSC, et al., Civil Action No. 91-0013-TPJ (D.D.C.).
The Directive, which purports to rescind NSDD 145, was recently
disclosed as a result of this litigation CPSR initiated against the
National Security Council.
The text of the Directive raises several questions concerning the
Administration's compliance with the Computer Security Act:
1. The new NSD 42 grants NSA broad authority over "national security
systems." This phrase is not defined in the Computer Security Act and
raises questions given the expansive interpretation of "national security"
historically employed by the military and intelligence agencies and the
broad scope that such a term might have when applied to computer
systems within the federal government.
If national security now includes international economic activity, as
several witnesses at your hearings suggested, does NSD 42 now grant NSA
computer security authority in the economic realm? Such a result would
clearly contravene congressional intent and eviscerate the distinction
between civilian and "national security" computer systems.
More critically, the term "national security systems" is used
throughout the document to provide the Director of the National
Security Agency with broad new authority to set technical standards.
Section 7 of NSD 42 states that the Director of the NSA, as "National
Manager for National Security Telecommunications and Information
Systems Security," shall
* * *
c. Conduct, *approve*, or endorse research and
development of techniques and equipment to secure
national security systems.
d. Review and *approve* all standards, techniques,
systems, and equipment, related to the security of
national security systems.
* * *
h. Operate a central technical center to evaluate and
*certify* the security of national security
telecommunications and information systems.
Given the recent concern about the role of the National Security
Agency in the development of the Digital Signature Standard, it is our
belief that any standard-setting authority created by NSD 42 should
require the most careful public review.
2. NSD 42 appears to grant the NSA new authority for information
security. This is a new area for the agency; NSA's role has
historically been limited to communications security. Section 4 of
the directive provides as follows:
The National Security Council/Policy Coordinating
Committee (PCC) for National Security Telecommuni-
cations, chaired by the Department of Defense, under the
authority of National Security Directives 1 and 10,
assumed the responsibility for the National Security
Telecommunications NSDD 97 Steering Group. By
authority of this directive, the PCC for National Security
Telecommunications is renamed the PCC for National
Security Telecommunications and Information Systems,
and shall expand its authority to include the
responsibilities to protect the government's national
security telecommunications and information systems.
Thus, by its own terms, NSD 42 "expands" DOD's authority to
include "information systems." What is the significance of this new
authority? Will it result in military control of systems previously
deemed to be civilian?
3. NSD 42 appears to consolidate NSTISSC (The National Security
Telecommunications and Information Systems Security Committee)
authority for both computer security policy and computer security
According to section 7 of the revised directive, the National
Manager for NSTISSC shall:
j. Review and assess annually the national security
telecommunications systems security programs and
budgets of Executive department and agencies of the U.S.
Government, and recommend alternatives, where
appropriate, for the Executive Agent.
NSTISSC has never been given budget review authority for federal
agencies. This is a power, in the executive branch, that properly
resides in the Office of Management and Budget. There is an
additional concern that Congress's ability to monitor the activities
of federal agencies may be significantly curtailed if this NSTISSC, an
entity created by presidential directive, is permitted to review
agency budgets in the name of national security.
4. NSD 42 appears to weaken the oversight mechanism established
by the Computer Security Act. Under the Act, a Computer Systems
Security and Privacy Advisory Board was established to identify
emerging issues, to inform the Secretary of Commerce, and to report
findings to the Congressional Oversight Committees. Sec. 3, 15 U.S.C.
However, according to NSD 42, NSTISSC is established "to consider
technical matters and develop operating policies, procedures,
guidelines, instructions, and standards as necessary to implement
provisions of this Directive." What is the impact of NSTISSC
authority under NSD 42 on the review authority of the Computer Systems
Security and Privacy Advisory Board created by the Computer Security
Five years after passage of the Computer Security Act, questions
remain about the extent of military involvement in civilian and
private sector computer security. The acknowledged role of the
National Security Agency in the development of the proposed Digital
Signature Standard appears to violate the congressional intent that
NIST, and not NSA, be responsible for developing security standards
for civilian agencies. The DSS experience suggests that one of the
costs of permitting technical standard setting by the Department of
Defense is a reduction in communications privacy for the public. The
recently released NSD 42 appears to expands DOD's security authority
in direct contravention of the intent of the Computer Security Act,
again raising questions as to the role of the military in the nation's
There are also questions that should be pursued regarding the
National Security Agency's compliance with the Freedom of Information
Act. Given the NSA's increasing presence in the civilian computing
world, it is simply unacceptable that it should continue to hide its
activities behind a veil of secrecy. As an agency of the federal
government, the NSA remains accountable to the public for its
We commend you for opening a public discussion of these important
issues and look forward to additional hearings that might address the
questions we have raised.
CPSR Washington Office
End of Computer Underground Digest #4.38
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank