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Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Russia Reportedly Goes Retro To Keep Kremlin Secrets

Jul 12, 2013
Originally published on July 12, 2013 3:00 pm

The Russian agency charged with safeguarding Kremlin communications is said to be opting for a low-tech solution to secure top-secret messages in the wake of the NSA surveillance scandal: typewriters.

Izvestia reports that the Federal Guard Agency, known by the acronym FSO, has placed an order for $15,000 worth of electric typewriters.

Izvestia quotes an unnamed source in Russia:

"After scandals with the distribution of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the exposes by Edward Snowden, reports about [Russian Prime Minister] Dmitry Medvedev being listened in on during his visit to the G20 summit in London, it has been decided to expand the practice of creating paper documents."

The source said typewriters were already being used in Russia's defense and emergency ministries, and that they are also used to prepare select secret reports for President Vladimir Putin.

The retro approach to security would have two distinct advantages — not only would it keep sensitive communications outside vulnerable computer networks, but since each typewriter has subtle and identifiable differences in typeface, it would make it easier to track down potential leakers.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.