EKSTRABLADET (c) March 22, 2000, Denmark

Spies at large: Overview over NSAs new patent on a holographic storage device, that will give the electronic spies new astounding potential to monitor and register their subjects and break codes.

Echelons spies have developed new, sensational computer-processing power that gives them mind-boggling surveillance potential

Denmark's ministers of defense, justice and research are left holding the bag. Up to now, the only line of protection against Echelon's illegal surveillance they have time and again recommended is to 'use encryption'.

This strategy has now been severely undermined.

Because NSA's Echelon service has developed a holographic computer technology that gives the electronic spies new, astounding potential to monitor and register their subjects and to break codes.

Ekstra Bladet bases its current disclosures on newly discovered documents from the US Patent Office.

The new patent moves us closer to a Big Brother society by leaps and bounds. Objectively speaking, this new invention enables the NSA to store and process unprecedented, enormous amounts of data.

At the same time, the new system is capable of transferring and processing large amounts data at an incredibly greater speed than the computers we know today. And remember that the NSA already had an enormous processing capacity.

Large quantities of data. High speed. Big problems. Especially for people who want to communicate in peace without anyone nosing around.

First of all, the new storage potential means that the NSA can store much larger volumes of data from monitored conversations and intercepted e-mails than ever before.
Secondly, the system's speed means that the bugged conversations and e-mails can be processed and sorted much faster than ever before.
Thirdly - the worst aspect by far - the newly developed system can be used to break the encryption which is otherwise the only defense against the spies' illegal surveillance.

Ekstra Bladet presented the new patent to Peter Landrock from Cryptomathic in Århus, Denmark for his comments. Peter Landrock is undoubtedly one of the world's leading cryptologists. From 1992 to 1995, Peter Landrock was president of the International Association of Cryptologic Research. Since 1996, he has been a member of Microsoft's Technical Advisory Board and affiliated with Cambridge University as senior researcher.
"Regardless of their intentions, the memory technology they have patented can definitely be used to make exhaustive searches," says Peter Landrock to Ekstra Bladet. Exhaustive search is a code-breaking technique. It is based on instructing a computer to try every single code combination until it finds the right code, after which the user can read the text.

To perform the fastest possible exhaustive search on a encrypted text, a computer system needs an incredibly large storage capacity. To decipher a coded letter, an ordinary computer system would need from now to eternity and then some.

The NSA's latest invention is tailor-made to smash the code systems used around the world as protection against spies.

Only a few months ago, an Israeli researcher showed how an ordinary household computer with a large hard disk can be used to break encrypted mobile telephones using exhaustive search.

"It was presented by one of the world's leading cryptologists, a man named Shamir, and some of his students... he is probably the world's leading cryptologist," says Peter Landrock.

But aren't you in cryptology's world heavyweight division, too?

"Maybe. Okay."

But if Shamir is capable of decoding mobile telephones on a continuous basis using an ordinary computer with a large hard disk, then what could the NSA be capable of?
"Well, it would be safe to multiply Shamir's results by a factor of 1000. They are interested in achieving a capacity to monitor thousands of mobile telephones or communication between telephones. They are in a different league altogether," says Peter Landrock to Ekstra Bladet.

Denmark's Minister of Justice Frank Jensen, Minister of Defense Hans Hækkerup and Minister of Research Birte Weiss have repeatedly asserted that powerful encryption is the only way to protect against Echelon's illegal surveillance.


The NSA was awarded its patent for the holographic computer on February 15 of this year. The NSA's new super patent has number 6.026.053 and was issued by the US Patent Office. Link to the complete text of the patent:
US Patent database.

By Bo Elkjaer and Kenan Seeberg