Tag numbers stations (1)

my current obsession
Mood: furtive
Music: one seven five zero five two six three
Posted on 2006-06-02 14:06:00
Tags: numbers stations
Words: 320

So I saw an article on Slashdot last night that rekindled my interest in some neato things I had looked at before (and possibly led to my bad dreams last night :-) )

The slashdot article makes reference to Numbers Stations, which are mysterious shortwave radio frequencies of spoken numbers, words, or letters. It is widely suspected that these are used to communicate with spies in the field, perhaps as a one-time pad. There's more information (and a listing of known stations) at spynumbers.com, and the Conet Project is a 4 CD set of recordings of many of these stations.

The article also talks about two recent postings on craigslist, which include a telephone number. Calling the number (at the time) gave a prerecorded message of digits, similar to a numbers station. A comment on the article also talks about similar postings in the comments of Slashdot, although I find it hard to believe people would use Slashdot for that sort of thing.

The blog 27B Stroke 6 at Wired thinks that the craigslist postings are love messages between cryptographers or something similarly innocuous, which is certainly possible. Interestingly, one of the authors of that blog, Ryan Singel, is the guy who interviewed Jonathan and I for Wired last year.

One thing I thought about: if these are one-time pads, isn't making them publicly available a big security risk? I mean, people have been able to track down where some of the stations are coming from, so it wouldn't be too hard to use the data received and try it against all known coded messages detected coming from that station's country of origin. Maybe I'm underestimating the amount of data involved, though.

I can't say exactly why, but I find the whole thing fascinating and creepy at the same time. I'm seriously considering ordering the CDs, although they are a bit expensive.

Anyway, that's what's on my mind. Have a good weekend!


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