The Typewriter Returns- For Information Security

The humble device makes a comeback to shield national secrets with concerns about high-tech surveillance techniques targeting governments.
 Typewriter returns to safeguard national security.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to increase the country’s information security following the much-publicized leaks of secret information by the NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Russia's Federal Guard Service, the agency, which guards Russian officials -- the Russian equivalent of the U.S. Secret Service has decided to revert to using typewriters to produce secret documents.

The Agency has placed an order for 20 electric typewriters for 486,540 rubles ($15,000), according to the Russian procurement service website.

"After the scandal with the spread of secret documents by WikiLeaks, the revelations of Edward Snowden, reports of listening to Dmitry Medvedev during his visit to the G20 summit in London, the practice of creating paper documents will increase," an unidentified FSO source tells Izvestia.

Russia was furious by the revelations but said it had the means to protect itself. Snowden has been stuck in legal case at the transit zone of a Moscow airport for a third week after arriving from Hong Kong on June 23.

Another key reason for using typewriters is that each creates its own unique "signature" that can be traced, the newspaper says.

Although maintaining paper documents is riskier as they are vulnerable to seizure, copying, or fire, those disadvantages are nothing compared to the widespread, global damages the Internet and online databases can do. 

"From the point of view of ensuring security, any form of electronic communication is vulnerable," Nikolai Kovalev, an MP and former head of the Federal Security Service, the successor to the KGB, tells Izvestia.

"Any information can be taken from computers," he says. "Of course there are means of protection, but there is no 100% guarantee they will work. So from the point of view of keeping secrets, the most primitive method is preferred: a human hand with a pen or a typewriter."

Typewriters certainly have hipster appeal. A number of writers raved about the gadget to the New York Times a few years back. Its uniqueness to encourage you to commit to your thoughts without relying on the delete key, as well as it ability to never run out of power for want of a wall outlet appeals to a lot of users.

According to reports the world's last typewriter factory closed its doors a few years ago. As it turns out they are false. Ink-making machines are still a thriving business in the developing world.

if you're curious what kind of typewriters the Russians prefer, the Federal Guard agency order apparently included ribbons for the Triumph Adlew TWEN 180: "recommended for confidential documents," according to Izvestiya

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