1994-05-27 - Re: (fwd) Re: NSA Helped Yeltsin Foil 1991 Coup

Header Data

From: “Perry E. Metzger” <perry@imsi.com>
To: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Message Hash: ca3c5361474bdd4bab009578a9a11b8df39607a2e201a20f53f5570d7acd12ee
Message ID: <9405271821.AA09012@snark.imsi.com>
Reply To: <199405271754.KAA28941@netcom.com>
UTC Datetime: 1994-05-27 18:24:14 UTC
Raw Date: Fri, 27 May 94 11:24:14 PDT

Raw message

From: "Perry E. Metzger" <perry@imsi.com>
Date: Fri, 27 May 94 11:24:14 PDT
To: tcmay@netcom.com (Timothy C. May)
Subject: Re: (fwd) Re: NSA Helped Yeltsin Foil 1991 Coup
In-Reply-To: <199405271754.KAA28941@netcom.com>
Message-ID: <9405271821.AA09012@snark.imsi.com>
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain

Timothy C. May says:
> An interesting article by Seymour Hersh is cited below. It says that
> NSA had transcripts of the 1991 coup plotters (and presumably other
> Russian leaders) and that Bush passed these on to Yeltsin to warn him.
> If true, a serious compromise of NSA's listening capabilities.

If true, it is seriously disturbing. The KGB is presumably the only
entity on earth with cryptography expertise in the range of the NSAs.
The notion that in spite of the advances of the last twenty years it
is still possible for a few years technical lead to make that much of
a difference likely means that what we don't know about conventional
cryptosystems is likely still extremely important.

I had been running on the assumption for a while that the NSA was
slowly losing its capacity to break codes as ones with inherently
better and better theoretical underpinnings arrived. If the story is
true, it means that the NSA can break some classes of conventional
cryptosystems very fast -- fast enough to be of use in this case, for

We are all very dependent on things like MD5 and IDEA, which may or
may not actually be secure. We should bear this in mind.