Computer underground Digest Sun June 5, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 49 ISSN 1004-042X Editors: J
Computer underground Digest Sun June 5, 1994 Volume 6 : Issue 49
Editors: Jim Thomas and Gordon Meyer (TK0JUT2@NIU.BITNET)
Archivist: Brendan Kehoe
Retiring Shadow Archivist: Stanton McCandlish
Shadow-Archivists: Dan Carosone / Paul Southworth
Ralph Sims / Jyrki Kuoppala
Copy Dittoer: Etaoian Shrdlu
CONTENTS, #6.49 (June 5, 1994)
File 1--AT&T Lab Scientist Discovers Flaw in Clipper Chip
File 2--Jacking in from the SNAFU Port (Clipper Snafu update)
File 3--Jacking in from the "We Knew It All Along" Port (Clipper)
File 4--Crackdown on Italian BBSes Continues
File 5--Norwegian BBS Busts / BitPeace
File 6--BSA: Software Piracy Problem Shows no Sign of Easing
File 7--Re: "Problems at TCOE" (CuD 6.47)
File 8--Is there an MIT/NSA link-up for PGP 2.6? Some Info
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Date: Thu, 2 June, 1994 23:54:21 EDT
Subject: File 1--AT&T Lab Scientist Discovers Flaw in Clipper Chip
(The government's proposed encryption technology may not be as
secure as proponents want us to think. This might be of interest
Scientist Insists U.S. Computer Chip has Big Flaw
By John Markoff
Extracted from the New York Times, June 2, 1994
Technology that the Clinton administration has been promoting for use
by law enforcement officials to eavesdrop on electronically scrambled
telephone and computer conversations is flawed and can be defeated, a
computer scientist says.
Someone with sufficient computer skills can defeat the government's
technology by using it to encode messages so that not even the
government can crack them, according to AT&T Bell Laboratories
researcher Matthew Blaze.
(The article explains the background to the fight to implement
Clipper by the Clinton Adminstration as a means to help
law enforcment, and notes that the technolgoy has been
widely criticized by communications executives and others)
The industry also fears foreign customers might shun equipment if
Washington keeps a set of electronic keys. But now Blaze. as a result
of his independent testing of Clipper, is putting forth perhaps the
most compelling criticism yet: The technology simply doesn't work as
Blaze spelled out his findings in a draft report that he has been
ciculat-ing quietly among computer researchers and federal agencies in
"The government is fighting an uphill battle," said Martin Hellman. a
Stanford University computer scientist who has read Blaze's paper and
who is an expert in data encryption. "People who want to work around
Clipper will be able to do it."
But the National Security Agency. the government's electronic spying
agency, said Wednesday that Clipper remained useful, despite the flaw
uncovered by Blaze.
"Anyone interested in circumventing law enforcement access would most
likely choose simpler alternatives," Michael Smith, the agency's
director of policy. said in a written statement.
"More difficult and time consuming efforts. like those discussed in
the Blaze paper, are very unlikely to be employed."
(The article summarizes the government's defense for Clipper)
But industry executives have resisted adopting Clipper. Because the
underlying mathematics of the technology remain a classified
government secret, industry officials say there is no way to be
certain that it is as secure as encoding techniques already on the
They also fear that Clipper's electronic back door, which is designed
for legal wiretapping of communications. could make it subject to
abuse by the government or civilian computer experts. Privacy-rights
advocates have cited similar concerns.
Industry executives also have worried that making Clipper a fed-eral
government standard would be a first step toward prescribing the
technology for private industry or requiring that it be included in
sophisticated computing and communications devices that are to be
Blaze said that the flaw he discovered in the Clipper design would not
permit a third party to break a coded computer conversation.
But it would enable two people to have a secret conversation that law
enforcement officials could not unscramble. And that could render
Clipper no more useful to the government than encryption technology
already on the market to which it does not hold the mathematical keys.
"Nothing I've found affects the security of the Clipper system from
the point of view of people who might want to break the system." Blaze
said. "This does quite the opposite. Somebody can use it to circumvent
the law enforcement surveillance mechanism."
The article concludes by noting that Blaze said that several
simple changes to the Clipper design could fix the flow, but that
this might be difficult because the changes would require the
government to start over in designing clipper. The governmetn has
already started ordering telephones containing the Clipper chip
for federal agencies.
Date: Thu, Jun 2 1994 17:33:21 PDT
From: Brock Meeks
Subject: File 2--Jacking in from the SNAFU Port (Clipper Snafu update)
((Moderators' Note: The following article may not be reprinted or
reproduced without the explicit consent of the author)).
CyberWire Dispatch // Copyright (c) 1994 //
Jacking in from the SNAFU Port:
Washington, DC -- Matthew Blaze never intended to make the front page
of the New York Times. He was just doing his job: Nose around inside
the government's most secret, most revered encryption code to see if
he could "break it." Blaze, a researcher for AT&T Bell Labs, was good
at this particular job. Maybe a bit too good. Although he didn't
actually "break" the code, he did bend the fuck out of it. That feat
landed him a front page story in the June 2 issue of the New York
What Blaze found -- and quietly distributed among colleagues and
federal agencies in a draft paper -- was that design bugs in Skipjack,
the computer code that underlies the Clipper Chip encryption scheme,
can be jacked around, and re-scrambled so that not even the Feds can
crack it. This of course defeats the whole purpose of the Clipper
Chip, which is to allow ONLY the government the ability to eavesdrop
on Clipper encoded conversations, faxes, data transmissions, etc.
What Blaze's research attacks is something called the LEAF, short for
"Law Enforcement Access Field." The LEAF contains the secret access
code needed by law enforcement agents to decode the scrambled
messages. Blaze discovered that the LEAF uses only a 16- bit
checksum, which is a kind of self-checking mathematical equation.
When the checksum equations match up, the code is valid and
everything's golden. The cops get to unscramble the conversations and
another kiddie porn ring is brought to justice. (This is what the FBI
will tell you... again and again and again and... ) But you can
generate a valid 16-bit checksum in about 20 minutes, according to
those crypto-rebels that traffic the Internet's Cypherpunks mailing
list. "A 16-bit checksum is fucking joke," one cryptographic expert
from the list told Dispatch. "If it weren't so laughable, I'd be
insulted that all this tax payer money has gone into the R&D of
something so flawed."
But the New York Times got the story *wrong* or at least it gave only
part of the story. "What the New York Times story didn't say was that
the findings... had nothing to do with the Government standard, which
covers voice, facsimile and low-speed data transmission," said an AT&T
spokesman. AT&T was the first company to publicly support the Clipper
Chip. A stance that was essentially bought and paid for by the U.S.
government with the promise it would get big government contracts to
sell Clipper equipped phones to Uncle Sam, according to documents
previously obtained by Dispatch.
The AT&T spokesman said the "frailty" that Blaze discovered doesn't
actually exist in the Clipper Chip applications. "Our scientists,
working with National Security Agency (NSA) scientists, were
conducting research on proposed future extensions of the standard," he
Those "future extensions" are the so-called Tessera chip, intended to
be embedded in a PCMCIA credit card sized device that fits into a slot
in your computer.
When the NSA trotted out its Tessera card, it invited Blaze, among
others, to review the technology, essentially becoming a beta-tester
for the NSA. No formal contract was signed, no money changed hands.
Blaze took on the job in a volunteer role. Using a prototype Tessera
chip installed on a PCMCIA card, he broke the damn thing.
AT&T claims the whole scenario is different from the Clipper because
the LEAF generated by Clipper "is a real time application... with
Tessera it's static," the spokesman said. He said Tessera would be
used to encrypt stored communications or Email. "And with Tessera,
the user has the ability to get at the LEAF," he said, "with Clipper,
Blaze will deliver his paper, titled "Protocol Failure in the Escrowed
Encryption Standard," this fall during the Fairfax Conference. His
findings "should be helpful" to the government "as it explores future
applications," of its new encryption technology the AT&T spokesman
said. In our view, it's better to learn a technology's limitations
while there's time to make revisions before the Government spends
large sums to fund development programs."
This is an important, if subtle statement. The Clipper Chip never
underwent this type of "beta-testing," a fact that's drawn the ire of
groups such as Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR)
and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). When the White House
began to take hits over this ugly situation, it agreed to have an
independent panel of experts review the classified code to check for
Those experts claim they found nothing fishy, but their report -- alas
--has also been classified, leading to further demands for openness
and accountability. The White House is stalling, naturally.
But in an apparent about face, the NSA allowed an "open" beta- testing
for Tess and -- surprise -- we find out there are bugs in the design.
Okay, Pop Quiz time: Does the existence of "Blaze Bug" make you feel:
(A) More secure about the government's claim that Clipper will only be
used to catch criminals and not spy on the citizenry. (B) Less secure
about everything you've ever been told about privacy and encryption by
the Clinton Administration. (C) Like this entire episode is really
an extended "Stupid Pet Tricks" gag being pulled by David Letterman.
If you're still unsure about Clipper, check this quote from the AT&T
spokesman: "It's worth noting that Clipper Chip wasn't subjected to
this type of testing." Ah-huh... any questions?
The NSA is trying to downplay the news. "Anyone interested in
circumventing law enforcement access would most likely choose simpler
alternatives," said Michael Smith, the agency's planning director, as
quoted by the New York Times. "More difficult and time-consuming
efforts, like those discussed in the Blaze paper, are very unlikely to
He's right. Those "simpler alternatives" include everything from
private encryption methods to not using a Clipper equipped phone or
fax in the first place. (Of course, the FBI keeps insisting that
criminals won't use any of this "simpler" knowledge because they are
Despite the NSA's attempt to blow off these findings, the agency is
grinding its gears. One NSA source told Dispatch that the Blaze paper
is "a major embarrassment for the program." But the situation is
"containable" he said. "There will be a fix." Dispatch asked if there
would be a similar review of the Clipper protocols to see if it could
be jacked around like Tess. "No comment," was all he said.
Date: Thu, Jun 2 1994 17:33:21 PDT
From: Brock Meeks
Subject: File 3--Jacking in from the "We Knew It All Along" Port (Clipper)
((Moderators' Note: The following article may not be reprinted or
reproduced without the explicit consent of the author)).
CyberWire Dispatch // Copyright (c) 1994 //
Jacking in from the "We Knew It All Along" Port:
Washington, DC -- The key technology underlying the Administration's
Tessera "Crypto Card" was fatally flawed from its inception, Dispatch has
learned. Government researchers working for the National Security Agency
have known for months about the flaw, but purposefully withheld that
information from the public, a government official acknowledged today to
Cryptographic researchers at the super-secret NSA have known all along that
the program used to scramble a key part of the government's Clipper system
could be thwarted by a computer savvy user with 28 minutes of free time,
according to an NSA cryptographic expert that spoke to Dispatch under the
condition he not be identified.
"Everyone here knew that the LEAF (Law Enforcement Access Field) could be
fucked with if someone knew what they were doing," the NSA expert said.
"We knew about the flaw well before it became public knowledge. What we
didn't know is how long it would take an outside source to discover the
In essence, the NSA decided to play a kind of high-tech cat and mouse game
with a technology being hailed as the most secure in the world. So secure,
the White House is asking the public to give up a degree of privacy because
there's no chance it can be abused.
"We figured [the presense of the flaw] was an acceptable risk," the NSA
expert said. "If no one found out, we probably would have fixed it sooner
or later," he said. "I can't imagine that we would have let that one slip
But someone spoiled the end game. A 33-year-old AT&T scientist Matthew
Blaze discovered the crack in the White House's increasingly crumbling spy
vs. citizen technology.
Acting as a kind of beta-tester, Blaze found several techniques that could
be used to successfully thwart the LEAF, the encrypted data stream needed
by law enforcement officers in order to identify what amounts to a social
security number for each Clipper or Tessera chip.
Once the LEAF is in hand, law enforcement agents then submit it to the
"key escrow agents." These escrow agents are two government authorized
agencies that keep watch over all the keys needed to descramble Clipper
or Tessera encoded conversations, faxes or data transmissions. Without the
keys from these two agencies, the law enforcement agents hear nothing but
static. Without the LEAF, the agencies won't cough up the keys.
Bottom line: If the LEAF is fucked, so is access to the scrambled
What Blaze so eloquently discovered is that someone with a modicum of
knowledge could do was jack around with the LEAF, rendering it unusable.
What Blaze didn't realize is that he was merely acting as an NSA stooge.
But the methods discovered by Blaze, and outlined in a draft paper he'll
later present this month during a high brow security shindig known as the
Fairfax conference, are cumbersome. "The techniques used to implement
(the work arounds) carry enough of a performance penalty, however, to limit
their usefulness in real-time voice telephony, which is perhaps the
government's richest source of wiretap-based intelligence," Blaze writes in
Notice he says "limit" not "completely render useless." Important
distinction. Are there other, faster, more clever ways to circumvent the
LEAF? "If there are, I wouldn't tell you," the NSA crypto expert said.
Shut Up and Chill Out
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the agency
walking point for the White House on the Clipper issue, takes these
revelations all in stride. Sort of a "shut up and chill out" attitude.
The techniques described by Blaze "are very unlikely to be used in actual
communications," a NIST spokeswoman said. Does that mean they could never
be used? "It's very unlikely."
NIST, when confronted with the fact that NSA researchers knew all along
that the technology was broken, was unapologetic. "All sound cryptographic
designs and products consider tradeoffs of one sort or another when design
complexities, costs, time and risks are assessed," the NIST spokeswoman
said. The Clipper family of encryption technologies "is no exception,"
NIST said that the Tessera card "isn't a standard yet, so the process of
testing it's integrity is ongoing." The technology in Tess is known as
the Capstone chip, which, unlike the Clipper Chip, hasn't yet been accepted
as a standard, NIST said.
Flaws, therefore, are assumably just part of an ongoing game.
The fact that the NSA knew about this flaw when it asked people like Blaze
to test it was "just part of the ongoing testing procedure," the
spokeswoman said. And if Blaze or some other idea hamster hadn't
discovered the flaw? You make the call.
What about Clipper? Are there such flaws in it? NIST says "no" because
it has already been through "independent testing" and accepted as a
standard. If there are flaws there, they stay put, or so it seems.
Clipper's My Baby
Beyond the high risk crypto games the NSA has decided to play, there's
another disturbing circumstance that could torpedo the Clipper before it's
given its full sailing orders. This obstacle comes in the form of a patent
Silvio Micali, a scientist at the massachusetts Institute of Technology
says the Clipper is his baby. He claims to hold two crucial patents that
make the Clipper tick.
"We are currently in discussions with Mr. Micali," NIST said. "We are
aware of his patent claims and we're in the process of addressing those
concerns now," a NIST spokeswoman said.
She wouldn't go into details about as to the extent of the talks, but
obviously, the government is worried. They haven't flatly denied Micali's
If this all sounds like a bad nightmare, you're right. NIST ran into the
same problems with its Digital Signature Standard, the technology they've
adopted as a means to "sign" and verify the validly of electronic mail
messages. Others jumped on the government's DSS standard, claiming they
were owed royalties because they held patents on the technology. These
discussions are still "ongoing" despite the government's adoption of the
The same situation is now happening with Clipper. One could make a case
that Yogi Berra is the policy wonk for the Clipper program: "It's like
deja vu all over again," Berra once said.
So it is, Yogi... so it is.
Date: Sat, 4 Jun 1994 00:02:27 -0700
From: Bernardo Parrella
Subject: File 4--Crackdown on Italian BBSes Continues
Twenty-four days after the first major crackdown on Fidonet Italia
BBSes, on Friday June 3, the Taranto Finance Police visited Taras
Communications BBS, the main National Peacelink node and data-bank.
Acting after a warrant issued by the Prosecutor of the same city,
Giovanni Pugliese and his wife were charged for the possession of
"illegally copied software and electronic equipment suitable to
falsification." After searching their apartment for more than 5 hours
(from 5 pm to 10.30 pm), Finance officials sealed off the PC on which
the BBS run and seized 174 floppy disks - leaving behind the monitor
and the only available modem. Because the Taranto node hosts most of
the network archives and all the email traffic, at the moment the
entire national Peacelink net is down. Giovanni Pugliese is currently
working to start again his system as soon as possible - probably in
the next 48 hours.
With more than 30 nodes throughout the country, several Fidonet
gateways, and a project currently underway to connect directly to
Comlink and the other APC Networks, Peacelink is completely dedicated
to peace, human rights and ecology issues. Founded in1992 as a
specialized conference of Fidonet Italia network, Peacelink became
quickly independent and well known even outside Italy. Recently the
network hosted a national conference on peace-related matters,
becoming also the only communication link for people in the
former-Yugoslavia and the outside world.
"Taras Communications BBS has never had anything to do with software
piracy and is well know for its activities related to humanitarian,
peace, social issues," Giovanni Pugliese said. "Peacelink and its
sister Fidonet Italia network had always pursued a very restrictive
policy against any illegally copied software on their systems. Because
Taras Communications BBS is the main National node of Peacelink
network, its forced closure, hopefully very short, will result in a
great damage for those hundreds of people - including journalists,
activists, volunteers - that were widely relying upon its everyday
The first phase of the crackdown (May 11-13) targeted Fidonet Italia
network in several cities in the northern and cental regions of the
country. While a still inaccurate number of BBSes (probably from 30 to
60) were searched and dozens were closed down, on May 25 an official
press-release of the Finance Police in Torino claimed a seizure "for a
value of more than 4 billion of Italian lire (about US $2,5 million),
including 17 personal computers; 13,690 floppy disks of illegally
copied software," dozens of modems and electronic devices.14 people
were charged with "conspiracy with unknown for the crime of software
piracy" - but no arrests were made.
The new raid hit the online community at the exact moment when sysops,
users, media and citizens were waiting for a relaxing and clarifier
signal from investigators, including the first decisions about the
seized hardware scheduled in these days.
Right now, activists are coordinating a series of quick answers,
including the foundation of a National association dedicated to the
protection of civil rights for Electronic Citizens.
- Bernardo Parrella
< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
electronic distribution of this posting is greatly encouraged,
preserving its original version, including the header and this notice
< - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - >
Date: Sat, 4 Jun 1994 00:02:27 -0700
From: Bernardo Parrella
Subject: File 5--Norwegian BBS Busts / BitPeace
==== fwd msg ====
>From email@example.com Fri Jun 3 12:40:21 1994
General Briefing from BitPeace - the Norwegian BBS Scene
The Norwegian police acting on initiative from the Ministry of Cultural
Affairs has been exasperatingly aggressive since May 25th. Since
Tuesday, 3 bulletin boards have been busted, named Zilent BBS,
Byte BBS and Scheen BBS.
The operator of Zilent BBS is 12 years old, and got busted for a receipe
on making your own firecrackers. The police stormed his house, took his
equipment and left..:-)
Byte BBS got busted for having one (ONE) illegal pornographic picture.
Rumours go that this was planted there by a Norwegian computer firm that
collaborates with the Oslo District Attorney - as his "experts". Anyway,
the SysOp in question was on a 14-day vacation when some luna uploaded
the illegal picture to his BBS. Then some other luna (or was it the same
guy??) tipped off the Norwegian police, which waited for the poor SysOp
when he returned home. He winded up in police custody, and is due to
appear before a local magistrate in a few weeks time. These legal
proceedings are going to constitute a case of paramount importance - and
if the SysOp is acquitted, this law suit would set legal precedence
and of course be a great victory for us all. A legal success would lay
down precedence for that a Sysop is not responsible for what the users
upload, at least not when he's not home, but that the USER has to take
this responsibility. Currently one takes a great risk putting up a board
up, you may risk loosing all your equipment, which may or may not be
returned with or without the whole or parts of the software intact; all
according to the free discretion of the local police. (That is, if you
can't afford having someone watching the system 24 hours a day.)
We are trying to organize some kind of association to protect SysOp rights.
We also produce software to reduce the damage for the sysop if he or she
gets busted. We are also to organize political protests, and many
Sysops have requested political asylum in the Italian embassy. (Because
that was the only embassy that even allowed us to TALK with them.)
Politicians in Norway have moved a law proposal that would make Norwegian
sysops editorially responsible to the law for whatever software or
messages happening to be present at his / her board at any time.
Preventing this bill from being passed is our main objective - and we
have a hard fight ahead if we are to avoid this. That's what we've got
to do, and I hope that you organize and work against the same type of
political sencorship and random ransacking and confiscations at the
free will and discretion of any local police attorney. We would also
be extremely glad if you helped us - if you're an Italian citizen,
please address your letter of protest to the Royal Norwegian Embassy
in Rome. If writing from outside Italy, you may direct your letters
to the Royal Norwegian Foreign Office in Oslo. The adresses are as
Reale Ambasciata di Norvegia
Via delle Terme Deciane 7
Royal Norwegian Foreign Office
Haakon VII's plass
The authors of this briefing is availiable through mail;
0364 Oslo 3
BBS: +47 22 567 008 (Bulletronics BBS)
Voice: +47 22 69 59 94 (Between 15:00 and 23:00 CET)
Niels Juelsgt. 41a
Date: Thu, 2 Jun 1994 21:18:43 PDT
Subject: File 6--BSA: Software Piracy Problem Shows no Sign of Easing
This came across the nets and should be of interested to CuD
readers -- anon
From: Computer Age
New worldwide piracy estimates just released by the Business Software
Alliance show that massive global theft of software continues unabated
with annual losses to publishers and distributors of at least $12
Use of pirated software ranges in some Asian countries up to 99
percent. In Europe, estimates run as high as 86 percent. They are 85
percent in some parts of Latin America.
To help fight the problem, the Washington, D.C.based trade group has
just expanded its European Regional Program to offer membership -- at
no cost for the first year -- to small European software publishers
with less than $10 million in worldwide revenues.
The new program offers publishers BSA's help through public policy
proposals to strengthen copyright protection for software, legal
action to enforce copyright laws against infringers, and market
projects to promote use of original software.
The following chart provides a country-by-country breakdown of the
estimated percentage of software in use that is pirated, and the
dollar losses this represents to software makers:
Country of Piracy Losses
Australia/New Zealand 45% 160 million
Benelux 66% 419 million
France 73% 1.2 billion
Germany 62% 1 billion
Italy 86% 550 million
Japan 92% 3 billion
Korea 82% 648 million
Singapore 41% 24 million
Spain 86% 362 million
Sweden 60% 171 million
Taiwan 93% 585 million
Thailand 99% 181 million
UK 54% 685 million
United States 35% 1.9 billion
Argentina 80% 38 million
Brazil 80% 91 million
Chile 75% 28 million
Colombia 85% 18 million
Mexico 85% 206 million
Venezuela 85% 91 million
Other Latin American
Countries 72 million
Date: Thu, 02 Jun 1994 07:07:36 -0700 (MST)
From: Joel M Snyder
Subject: File 7--Re: "Problems at TCOE" (CuD 6.47)
I'm writing to respond to the message by Jim Maroon, forwarded by Stanton
This sort of conjecture and hearsay really does the cause of electronic
freedom (if there is such a thing) more harm than good. It's obvious that
there's some sort of problem going on at the Tulare County Office of
Education, but posting this one-sided diatribe probably won't help the
situation there or anywhere.
In any case, the larger problem with this post is a dive into "amateur
lawyer" which seems to happen so often in USENET news. This paragraph
begins with "TCOE is bound by the First Amendment" (which we know not to be
true), stomps through a whole series of very complex issues involving use
of public facilities, with a variety of incorrect statements, ending with
"The courts have found that publicly funded universities could not remove
Internet listservs based on objection the content of those listservs..."
(which we know not to be true) and coming to the conclusion that:
> A BBS is just a bunch of folks sitting around talking. You can't
> dictate what speech is allowed and what speech is not allowed on a BBS
> run by a government institution.
This final statement is specifically unsupportable in this context.
My response is simple: this is not a legal issue. It is a political issue.
If you truly believe that the TCOE is obligated to offer an unfettered
forum (if it offers a forum at all), then the way to fight for your beliefs
is using exactly the same technique you found objectionable in the first
place: political pressure. Threatening legal action where none can be
brought forward will only bring you the jeers and annoyance of the system
operators. However, using the traditional political weapons of publicity,
public meetings, and "going over your head" will most likely create one of
1- the system will be shut down, as no one wants to be in such a
2- some obscure set of conditions where the sysop erred will be
found and he will be appropriately wrist-slapped -- with
that example serving to draw the line at what is
appropriate and what is inappropriate behavior.
Without knowing anything about the particulars, I suspect that (1) is the
most likely candidate.
Date: Mon, 30 May 1994 18:04:50 -0500 (CDT)
From: tlawless@WHALE.ST.USM.EDU(Timothy Mark Lawless)
Subject: File 8--Is there an MIT/NSA link-up for PGP 2.6? Some Info
For the past week our Unix machine has been down (Might have gotten
some mail bounces) because of a security violation. Durring that week
i re-discovered bbs's. One peice of info i found (And also got the
authors's permission to reprint (At the end) relevent to pgp I thought
i would pass on.
D Area: CypherMail DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD
Msg#: 19 Date: 05-24-94 19:47
From: Leland Ray Read: Yes Replied: No
To: All Mark:
Subj: More on PGP 2.5 & 2.6
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
The following is the complete, unedited plaintext of a message I
received via CompuServe from Christopher W. Geib, a software developer
who spent several years as a military intelligence officer. Chris has
written a very fine Windows interface for PGP which I'll be uploading
as soon as I get the newest release (with Chris's permission, of
course). I trust his judgment on this one.
~~~ =====(Begin plaintext)=====
I sent this to Mich Kabay of the NCSA Forum. Thought you might find it of
interest. Note that 2.5 is also a MIT/NSA concoction.
As I reflected on more and more on this posting, it occurred to me
that I was smelling a rat. The NCSA Forum members and others who
visit here should give thought to this issue. A puzzle of sorts seems
to be developing regarding PGP in general, and private possession of
crypto in particular. Let me provide some pieces to this puzzle, and
perhaps you and others may begin to see the bigger picture that seems
to be unfolding.
Piece #1: As you may already know, MIT is the single largest ($'s)
outside contractor to the NSA.
Piece #2: MIT is frustrated they feel that they have been somehow
cheated financially by the proliferation of PGP 2.3a as freeware. (I
still think that is insane as RSA was developed using public funding)
Piece #3: NSA is frustrated because of the apparent strength of the
imported Idea(tm) cipher.
Piece #4: NSA is pushing the Clipper crypto technology so that Big
Brother can have a free and easy backdoor to violate the privacy of
Americans. Note too, that Clipper technology was assisted along by
Piece #5: PGP 2.6 will *not* be compatible with 2.3a after Sept 1994
for 2-way encryption. This accomplishes reduced international secure
traffic by private individuals and businesses. This is exactly the
same problem that Clipper has.
Have you begun to see the big Puzzle Palace picture yet? Unless my
eyes deceive me, I would say this, MIT and NSA have teamed up together
on PGP 2.6! This version, until proven otherwise (through examination
of the source code, etc.), is likely to contain a backdoor big enough
to drive a Mack truck through it. The back door is likely similar to
Clipper and for the same intent. Given how much flak NSA has gotten
over Clipper, NSA will very likely stay very mum about the whole
issue. The big winners are NSA and MIT. They both get exactly what
each has wanted all along. MIT gets royalties they think they
deserve, NSA gets what they intend to have anyway, a means to continue
listening into citizens private conversations. NSA also wins on the
international front by reducing it's workload of analyzing
international encrypted traffic. Business and the citizens lose
because it isolates the US from Europe and the international
I strongly recommend that anyone who acquires PGP 2.6 do so with a
jaundiced eye. Until the private sector can review, and analyze this
new MIT/NSA system, one *must* assume that it is as if it contained a
virus, one you may never know it has. I for one will continue with
the present version as it's inventors have no reason to capture
If you think appropriate, please upload to Internet Risks with my
Christopher W. Geib
~~~ =====(End of plaintext)=====
So you decide, guys. Is it worth the risk? Again, just some
thoughts, but remember this: if you go to either ver. 2.5 or 2.6,
you'll probably have to revoke your ver. 2.3 keys and start afresh
with new ones, which might not be secure in the first place.
... If the Pope's phones weren't secure, PGP would be a sacrament.
((Post obtaining reprint permission deleted))
End of Computer Underground Digest #6.49
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank