It looks like the Cold is not quite so cold. Although you’d never call relations between the US and Russia warm, they’ve certainly improved since the collapse of the Soviet Union. But distrust is still alive and well, as the Russians have shown by their recent purchase of twenty Triumph Adler typewriters. These have been given to agents of the Kremlin’s Federal Guard Service, which oversees the most sensitive government communications in order to prevent hacking or data mining malware.

Reasons for Using Typewriters

It may seem antiquated, but using typewriters is inspired. For one, a typed letter that is hand delivered cannot be hacked or mined or be infected by exposing malware. Even the best hacker can’t open an envelope from a computer terminal. Another advantage is that no two typewriters, like gun barrels and fingerprints, leave the same marks. Experts can always tell which typewriter produced a specific note. These typewriters are only being used for the most sensitive data and communications in the Kremlin, so any lag minimal.

Basis for Typewriter Paranoia

You can thank Mark Snowden for this sudden decay of relations between the Kremlin and the US. Basically, this intelligent young man that worked for both the NSA and CIA left the US after revealing to a London newspaper how extensive US surveillance was and especially how deep NSA data mining went. The effect of this information had a greater effect overseas than in the US, with many of our allies condemning us.

A month later, another NSA scandal erupted when the government ordered Verizon to hand over ALL records of U.S. phone calls. That would have created a wave of criticism, but the topper was the NSA forbidding Verizon from discussing the court order— the NSA told Verizon to hand over all records and don’t say anything about it. Not exactly the land of free, home of the brave, is it?

NSA and the Kremlin: Arch Enemies?

Even young Americans know of the rivalry between the US and Russia. They just need to watch virtually ANY James Bond film.

But the dark history between these agencies goes beyond entertaining cloak and dagger.  Many citizens believe the CIA and NSA are interchangeable organizations, but the difference is vast. The CIA focuses on “human” aspects of intelligence gathering, typically foreign agents. The NSA, a much larger organization, relies on signal interception for intelligence. Internet security and monitoring in the US is the jurisdiction of the NSA.

The height of the NSA’s monitoring of Soviet influence came in the 1960s, when the US had warehoused more recordings of Soviet transmissions than it could process. The NSA also exceeded at determining location so of enemy agencies, especially during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.  For decades, the activities of the NSA remained fairly clandestine, with a brief starring role in the Nixon impeachment. Only lately has the NSA taken center stage, a position the agency does not enjoy.