DL Neil GLLUG at GetAroundToIt.co.uk
Sun Oct 19 10:12:21 UTC 2014

On 19/10/14 21:21, Mark Preston wrote:
> On 19/10/14 01:52, Christopher Hunter wrote:
>> On 18/10/14 07:14, Mark Preston wrote:
>>> Faxes are actually very secure.
>> Err... No they're not. At all.
>> I had the job of designing a fax intercept machine for Police monitoring
>> of communications traffic way back in the 80s!
>> Chris
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> Hi Chris,
> Thank you for your reply, and also thanks to Bernard, Richard and James
> for their replies to my assertion which may well be wrong. I have no
> great technical knowledge on this issue, but I am interested to find out
> more about it. My comment was mainly based on some conversations I had
> with a person who worked for BT many years ago. He recently died so I
> can't ask him for clarification. Basically he told me he worked for a
> special BT unit that installed the phone lines that supplied fax
> machines and other telecommunications stuff in places like security
> offices and foreign embassies in London. He claimed that the encryption
> used for transmitting faxes was very secure.
>     In the same way that people like police can intercept phone calls I
> imagine that people can intercept faxes, but in relation to plain text
> email security this can still be considered very secure. I imagine that
> your fax intercept machine worked by redirecting the output of the fax,
> or copying it in some way similar to listening in on a phone call.

During the Gulf War it was noticed that Saudi Arabia was intercepting
international faxes - even to/from embassies! One could send a fax and
phone-ask the recipient to carpe diem, and he'd revert minutes later
complaining that the fax hadn't arrived ("must be a fault at your end,
old boy" - never a question of theirs - just in case you think this
behavior was born at IT Hell|p Desks!). Take no action and sure-enough
30~37 mins later the missing transmission would arrive. Interestingly,
no attempt was made to re-build or obscure the header information.

If such brazen evidence was not enough, it was obvious something was
amiss: if one printed a typed-document and then faxed it, with the
recipient perhaps penning a few comments manually in the margins on his
hard-copy, which was then faxed-back; the original type was degraded
way-beyond the usual two-way blurring!


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