back to article Dutch spies helped Britain's GCHQ break Argentine crypto during Falklands War

Dutch spies operating as a part of a European equivalent of the Five Eyes espionage alliance helped GCHQ break Argentinian codes during the Falklands War, it has been revealed. Flowing from revelations made in German-language news reports earlier this year that Swiss cipher machine company Crypto AG was owned by the CIA and …

  1. taxman

    Great name, great beer

    From Augustiner. Delicious dark 7.5% beer. One to drink slowly, and goes great with a venison stew and rye bread. Can understand why the BND staff liked it.

    Interesting that news of this group is now open source. But like all good secrets....

    1. robidy Silver badge

      Re: Great name, great beer

      They probably tested it with some fake messages and watched for appropriate responses.

      1. Bogbody

        Re: Great name, great beer

        Yes ... history would strongly suggest that their code would be broken. How long would be the question.

        By seeding test messages and looking for a "appropriate respons" (a hint would do) you could gain an insight into your opponents ability to read and understand your messages.

        Works in reverse too. Does message match action?

      2. JimboSmith Silver badge

        Re: Great name, great beer

        I would highly recommend reading The Silent Listener: British Electronic Surveillance Falklands 1982 by D. J. Thorp ISBN: 9780752477398. He was leading the Electronic Warfare effort in the South Atlantic and heard all sorts of things. From memory (I'm not at home and don't have my copy) he reveals that we had spectrum analysis technology. That meant they could spot transmissions being made across the spectrum and could then listen in on that frequency to check. The technology was classified at the time and cutting edge and it made it a slightly more exciting read from a tech perspective. I realised recently that I can do that sort of thing on my phone now. Just using an 2832u USB receiver stick, a USB OTG cable and an antenna. The whole lot can be fitted into a small washbag rather than flight cases or rack mounted. I sometimes look back and think how amazing it is that technology has advanced so far in that time.

        1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

          Re: Great name, great beer

          Good book.

          Yup, he refers to having radio receivers able to automatically "intercepting, scanning and capturing" frequencies or bands of frequencies.

        2. Wzrd1

          Re: Great name, great beer

          @JimboSmith, wrong. Spectrum reception and analysis can, with sufficient resources, defeat frequency hopping, sideband signaling tricks and a few other tricks in RF signaling.

          1. JimboSmith Silver badge

            Re: Great name, great beer

            Not sure what bit I was wrong on but read the book and make your own mind up. Do also remember this was the early 80s and technology has come on leaps and bounds since then.

        3. Grinning Bandicoot

          Another alternate

          R F Hack One, Raspberry, discone antenna and laptop. Add the software to sweep the bands and you have the equivalent of an R&S FPC 1000. The phone would then be available to order dinner. It is amazing though somewhat foreseeable where communication technology has brought us (also done to us).

    2. Joe W Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Great name, great beer

      Dang, now I need to get somebody to spring for a "business trip" to Munich - I sort of have have an excuse (I think / hope) but we are currently not allowed to travel as per our company's official line. However, since venison stew is more of an autumn dish I have some time!

      1. gazthejourno (Written by Reg staff)

        Re: Re: Great name, great beer

        A bit further west than Munich I discovered a great Flemish dish called carbonnade flamande. Beef marinaded in local beer (so dark and strong!) and then stewed in a creuset dish with onions and mushrooms plus various regional herbs for flavour. Serve with frites and side salad. Mouth-watering just thinking about it.

        1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

          Re: Great name, great beer

          That does sound delicious. Too bad Munich is so far away from me.

          1. monty75

            Re: Great name, great beer

            At the moment, everywhere is too far away

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Great name, great beer

            > a great Flemish dish called carbonnade flamande

            1. alexlawriewood

              Re: Great name, great beer

              If you're here, I can highly recommend it with the dark Westmalle, Carolus, or even Chimay (in increasing order of richness!).

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Great name, great beer

                Ahh Carolus. I recommend the Classic or the Ambrio.

            2. Oh Matron! Silver badge

              Re: Great name, great beer

              Despite it being a chain, Belgo Centraal does an excellent beef carbonnade

        2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Carbonade Flamande

          Hmmm. I have a couple of Bottles of OTT (Old Tongham Tasty) that might be ideal for this.

          The last of 2019's Onions need eating up and my herb garden is looking pretty good.

          That's Sunday Lunch sorted..... Thanks.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Carbonade Flamande

            "That's Sunday Lunch sorted..... Thanks."

            It's Monday today. Or are you planning that far ahead?

            (yes, I had to think carefully before deciding today is Monday - Being furloughed for nearly two months is taking it's toll on my internal calendar)

      2. DCdave
        Pint

        Re: Great name, great beer

        You have plenty of time - Starkbierzeit (~strong beer period) is traditionally in Spring and was part of fasting between Shrove Tuesday and Easter (Lent). There are normally plenty of festivals celebrating Starkbier, but quite possibly not next year. Personally I like Salvator.

  2. Adrian Midgley 1

    How indeed could they.

    1. Adrian Midgley 1

      Aha...

      As given in the reference, the ability to decrypt was developed after the invasion.

      That may well be true.

  3. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo
    Facepalm

    The spy agency's nightmare: "Boasting Politicitians"

    I suggest to establish, aside from OPSEC, INFOSEC, TRANSEC and SIGSEC, POLSEC; a process that hides critical information about the means of intelligence gathering from your own side, especially politicians. Think an ULTRA equivalent.

    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      I'm pretty sure Intelligence types say the absolute minimum to politicians already. The trouble is, politicians are on top. When they ask a question, Intelligence is supposed to answer.

      If you really want politicians to not get information, you wind up with the NSA, an entity that does what it wants and tells lies when asked questions.

      What's better ? I really don't know.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        > What's better ? I really don't know.

        Classic "damned if you do, damned if you don't"

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Imagine if "Jeremy" had won the last election and what might come out after family gatherings with brother Piers!

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Imagine if BoJo had won the last elections, and the absolute shitstorm that would result in!

            Oh, wait...

        2. doublelayer Silver badge

          It's a classic trust balancing act. When we are worried about someone else, we value intelligence actions against them, and politicians who disrupt it are doing harm. When we aren't afraid of someone else, we become alert that the intelligence actions are being aimed at us and people we like, so we now want politicians to disrupt them. There is a perfect solution to this: only have politicians who are trustworthy and understand the point--if the actions are warranted, they don't say anything, whereas if the actions are harmful or unjust, the whistle is blown thoroughly. As with every other perfect solution to anything, this one too is completely impossible. Instead, we have politicians doing their best to ensure that we are afraid of someone in order to support intelligence requests which don't actually serve to benefit those politicians. Meanwhile, intelligence collection systems blatantly lie about obvious things even though they have a robust political bulwark, meaning that nobody trusts them. Why they go to such efforts is anyone's guess.

      2. Peter2 Silver badge

        I'm pretty sure Intelligence types say the absolute minimum to politicians already. The trouble is, politicians are on top. When they ask a question, Intelligence is supposed to answer.

        Supposedly, the briefing that politicians get is stripped of as much information as is safe to do to protect people and methods from politicians getting pissed one evening and telling everybody everything.

        ie this "Our spy $name placed in $department tells us that they plan to do $thing on $date"

        gets stripped back to something like this:-

        We have information that $who will do $what on $date. We are highly confident of this information.

        Now if the opposition knew that then they might be able to figure out ways that the information might have been gained back to a person or method, but there is a balance between a need to know the information, and having the information and not sharing it (at which point having gone to the trouble and expense of getting the information is wasted)

        1. JimboSmith Silver badge

          Supposedly the CIA have a random word machine that spews out words from the dictionary at the touch of a button. Operations and agents are named using this so that there's as little chance as possible for anyone to work out what the operation is from the name. It's more random than flicking through the dictionary and sticking a pin at random on a page. That's allegedly how The Commodores picked theirs and almost ended up being The Commodes.

          I asked a friend over dinner at his house what activities his firm were doing in a particular country. He was immediately suspicious of me and asked what I knew. I said that all I'd seen was the title page that has fallen out of the folder he was reading from when I'd arrived. I had inferred from the name that it was probably something to do with Germany possibly a beer company although might not actually be happening in October. He wouldn't give anything away saying they were just planning a work trip to Oktoberfest that year. Years later he told me it was a client of theirs who was looking at buying a German brewer but hadn't happened. He thought they'd been very clever and calling the companies after national landmarks and the individual people after national footballers. After my comments he'd thought otherwise.

      3. Steve 114

        Are we suggesting the disclosuree was 'accidental'? Now why would such a thing be done?

      4. FlamingDeath

        ” you wind up with the NSA, an entity that does what it wants and tells lies when asked questions.

        I think we might have already reached that juncture with RIPA, they’re allowed to lie in court under oath now.

    2. Clunking Fist Bronze badge

      "hides critical information about the means of intelligence gathering from your own side, especially politicians"

      We tried that, it was called fascism.

      (But you're not wrong,witness how Obama has got himself in hot water by acknowledging that he knew all about General Flynn's phone call to the Russian Ambassador to the US...)

    3. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Remember Goose Green.

      The paras marched overnight to a farm within range of the Argentinian position. Carrying up to 130lb of kit. Since the loss of the helicopters on Atlantic Conveyor, they had to carry all their own mortar rounds. Plan was to sleep that day, and attack the next night.

      Then there’s a BBC news bulletin, that elements of the Parachute Regiment had reached the Argentinian airfield at Goose Green. Cue emergency day attack with no sleep - on a garrison that outnumbered them by about 3 to 1!

      Some enterprising Argentine mechanic took a ground attack rocket pod, and mounted it on a children's slide from the playground, and started using it as rocket artillery.

      1. Aussie Doc
        Black Helicopters

        Remember Goose Green

        Remember the Olympics.

        Okay, not quite mouthy politician.

        I seem to recall similar stuff with the Munich Olympics '72.

        The special forces du jour were trying to sneak into a building to rescue athletes/hostages but a TV crew were live broadcasting the incident and the baddies simply watched on the TV and waited with predictable, dire, results.

        Still remember the harrowing scenes from that.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Remember Goose Green

          The storming of the Iranian embassy in London ended up going out on live TV. Fortunately the people inside didn’t have time to react. As the SAS were already going through the windows.

    4. Version 1.0 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      The Falklands war was setup and fought to get Thatcher reelected - the politicians were far more concerned about the winning election than the war so whatever the Tories said in public was just political. Nothing has changed since then.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        The Tories didn’t say anything. The guy mentioned in the article was a Labour MP.

        As to your bizarre conspiracy theory, I’ve seen no evidence for it. Also the surprise and confusion of the government detailed in the couple of histories of the war I’ve read strongly suggest cock-up, rather than conspiracy. As is almost always the case.

        Plus reports by military top brass of the first meetings after the invasion were that the Conservative Defence Secretary, John Knott, was for giving up because he didn’t believe recapture of the islands was possible. So it would have to be a "conspiracy" involving Thatcher without anybody else.

      2. hoofie

        You utter twat.

        Go and read the Hansard reports from the time. Michael Foot, a Labour Leader who was unfairly maligned by the press, explicitly supported Military Action.

        Unlike many of the communist morons in his party at the time, Foot had seen in WW2 what would happen when you didn't defend your own people and what dictators could do.

  4. Egghead & Boffin

    Pilots carrying comprising material

    I was a pilot in the RAF at the time of the conflict.Part of our training and pre-flight procedures for operational sorties was to 'sterilise' ourselves of any useful information before 'walking' for the sortie in case of just this sort of eventuality. A pilot wouldn't carry that sort of information in paper form. Even if he did he wouldn't have the time to look at it in flight so why bother taking it?

    1. IWVC

      Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

      I bow to your greater knowledge but have always been under the impression that pilots would be given target or intercept details but not told that this has been found from intercepts of enemy communications. That would not stop the enemy concluding that the only way that that position could be found was if their communications had been intercepted and decoded. During WW2 great effort was taken to ensure that such conclusions could not be drawn and I understand that often photo reconnaissance flights were made over targets identified through ULTRA so that the enemy thought the target had been discovered by other means. One of the biggest security problems was the US Navy’s indiscriminate use of ULTRA to intercept refuelling U boats and the high risk that the Germans would conclude (rightly) that the large number of appearances of US forces at such remote points was more than coincidence.

      On the beer front many years ago I discovered a small cafe bar in Brussels called “The Beer Circus” which served food cooked with some of the hundred or so local beers it stocked (and there are a lot of very good beers in Belgium) including a sort of chocolate mousse made with Trappist beer. I think is was delicious but have very hazy memories of the place……..

      1. aje21

        Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

        Interesting reading some of the history of this, seems the Germans assumed we could not be decoding their messages because we were not doing it right away (sometimes it took a day or two to break the codes) and they could not believe the codes could be broken, only "pinched". So where it was obvious that a communication had been intercepted they assumed it was by some other mechanism than breaking the code (e.g. someone was passing on the message).

        Oh, and at times we messed up acting on the information which made it look unlikely we knew what was going on (this is distinct from intentionally not using the information of course).

        1. mtp
          Holmes

          Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

          I highly recommend "Most Secret War by R.V. Jones's". A fascinating insight into technical skulduggery during WW2

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

            I particularly loved Mr Jone's practical jokes in the battle of the beams. Seconded as being very well worth buying.

      2. Grinning Bandicoot

        RE USN

        In Black May (ISBN978-1-591114--304-8) argues that it was Huff-Duff (high frequency radio direction finding) did more tactically than Ultra. More so when RDFs became mounted on escorts. Part of Gannon's thesis is that German's talked and talked. The RN very early in the war had boarded one sub being scuttle and recovered part of the encryption suite but the USN under Gallery recovered the sub and had to face Adm King about threatening the Enigma secret but the worst leaks came from the activities of the Chicago Tribune whose reporter told all. Then again some leaks are deliberate with truth value from zero to 99.9 percent

    2. JimboSmith Silver badge

      Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

      I met a helicopter pilot who was with the taskforce and he said it got pretty hairy. They acted as decoys for enemy missiles launched at ships and I can't imagine that's much fun. A Harrier pilot had flown from Ascension with air to air refueling to join the taskforce. That was a fairly grueling thing as well and when he landed on the carrier he went to the mess for something to eat and drink. Whilst there enjoying his meal he heard news of the Argentine surrender.

      1. Peter2 Silver badge

        Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

        Not absurdly dangerous though either, to be fair.

        Basically, the Exocet radar was designed to fly at the centre of a radar return. The boffins came up with the idea of hovering a helicopter say 30 metres off the side of a ship. When the missile comes in, it sees the ship and the helicopter as a single radar return and flies directly at the centre of the resulting radar return; by the time it's close enough to realise it's taken an average of both and flown between the helicopter and the side of the ship missing both.

        These days ships have decoy launchers that toss an inflatable decoy over one side to do the same job.

        1. Bill Gray

          Re: Pilots carrying comprising material

          A modified version of :

          Three economists go duck hunting, and find a duck. The first shoots and misses, a meter to the left. The second shoots and misses, a meter to the right. The third one doesn't shoot, but jumps up and down and shouts, "We got it!"

  5. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Insert sadsack pun here

        Re: Should have been shot...........

        Maybe calling for the death of politicians isn't really the best idea at the moment.

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Should have been shot...........

      Parliamentary privilege. Whilst it may protect idiots it also protects your local MP if they take up some issue on your behalf. The best solution is not to vote in idiots but it seems we're making negative progress at this.

      1. Richard Parkin

        Re: Should have been shot...........

        I’m not convinced he was disclosing anything, the article says Rowlands said “ As well as trying to read the mind of the enemy, we have been reading its telegrams for many years” but “many years” doesn’t fit with the Dutch telling GCHQ at the start of the Argentinian invasion.

        1. Richard Parkin

          Re: Should have been shot...........

          Contradicting my own post, but Rowlands wasn’t leaking the Dutch effort but as other commenters have said, that GCHQ had been breaking Argentinian codes for years before.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Should have been shot...........

            He was assuming that GCHQ had been breaking the codes of potential enemies for years - if they hadn't then what was the point of them?

            It would also be particularly stupid of the Argentinian military to assume that a major NATO military, that you were about to start a war with, wouldn't be spying on you

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

              Re: Should have been shot...........

              It could be that we’d broken their diplomatic cypher. Often less clever than military codes, because really secret traffic can go by personal messenger or other means.

              Earlier in the 70s, maybe more than once, the British government had got word of a possible Argentinian invasion and despatched a submarine, then arranged to leak the info that it was en route. The Argentinian navy knew they didn’t have the ASW capability to protect a landing force from a modern sub.

              As that was under the preceding Labour government, he could well have known. Assuming that was the source of the intelligence. Lot of "if" there admittedly, but I’ve not read about the intelligence side of the conflict.

            2. Jonathan Richards 1

              Starting a war

              > It would also be particularly stupid of the Argentinian military to assume that a major NATO military, that you were about to start a war with, wouldn't be spying on you

              Ah, but the Argentinian state (led by a military junta) didn't think it was starting a war, because it was interpreting actions of the UK Foreign Office with respect to the Falkland Islands in a particular way, and thus thought there would be diplomatic protests, disputed declarations in the UN, yadda yadda, but that they'd end up with de facto sovereignty over Las Malvinas in addition to the de jure sovereignty that they claimed, and still claim to this day. Even the dimmest General (and you don't get promoted to General by being dim) would know that Argentina couldn't win a war with the UK.

              And indeed, Argentina didn't lose one. As I've said before, it wasn't a war in 1982, it was (as ex-RAF Egghead & Boffin, above) correctly describes it, a "conflict", a military Operation codenamed Corporate by the UK MOD. 75 years after VE Day isn't a good time to forget the difference between limited military conflict and total war.

  6. BenDwire
    Black Helicopters

    Huawei

    And in the 21st Century, all you need are a few compromised bits of backbone infrastucture to read everyone's telegrams ...

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Huawei

      Only if the telegrams are not end-to-end encrypted.

      Oh wait, that is going to be made illegal by dumb politicians, isnt it?

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: Huawei

        > Oh wait, that is going to be made illegal by dumb politicians, isnt it?

        Or actually the point of the article is "encryption secretly weakened by GCHQ"

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Huawei

      Sorry, I'm not clear: are you making an argument against Huawei, or for Huawei and against Cisco? When you're talking compromised infrastructure kit I think you need to be a bit more specific.

      1. Screwed

        Re: Huawei

        Surely an argument to "take back control" (TM)?

        Let us build our own kit.

        First let us work out how to manufacture PPE in volume... And find some solid, truly British companies to do the job.

        1. Wellyboot Silver badge

          Re: Huawei

          A little over 20 years ago the UKs ability to manufacture clothing at scale (including reusable PPE) was removed almost overnight when (lets call them skids&tenser) decided to move own label production to 3rd world sweatshops. Small UK clothing manufacturers went to the wall by the score with thousands of jobs lost and I didn't notice any retail price reductions, this was just a simple business decision. Over the following years many other UK clothing manufacturers also went overseas.

          Hospitals used to operate a closed loop system, reusable gowns & masks, many also had onsite laundry facilities, moving to single-use PPE saved cash (laundry gone), everyone except the laundry staff was happy.

          In the current crisis onsite laundry turn around times could have quickly been improved by using high street dry cleaners and any new (reusable) PPE deliveries would add to the in-use pool. Instead half the planet joined a bidding war for what was available and hoped it would be fit for use if it arrived in time.

          Beancounters concentrate on immediate cost savings, the saved 'value' will usually be incurred elsewhere at some point, however in normal time it isn't manifested as a body count on daily TV.

          The often ignored P5 principle applies. (as does the butterfly effect)

          1. martinusher Silver badge

            Re: Huawei

            > Instead half the planet joined a bidding war for what was available and hoped it would be fit for use if it arrived in time.

            I wish it was as simple as that. PPE -- or toilet rolls for that matter -- is a commodity and like all commodities in short supply there's a significant market in futures, selling product that you don't have but expect to have sometime in the future**. Quite apart from this being a dream scenario for scam artists it suggests that the same shipment is flowing virtually through numerous suppliers so it looks like there's a lot more product about than there is. Just don't actually try to touch any product.

            (**In the US, at least.)

          2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: Huawei

            As I recall, M&S were on the verge of failing themselves at the time. It's one of the very few corporate turnarounds of that type that actually worked.

    3. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Huawei

      Something something GCHQ Belgacom

      Link for your convenience

  7. Hans 1 Silver badge
    Coat

    Breaks it angle

    CIA had the info, UK and USA are part of 5 eyes, yet, UK had to rely on its European friends.

    Our five eyes serve our one friend exclusively.

    1. Bob7300

      Re: Breaks it angle

      Good thing we haven't been pissing our European neighbours off then isn't it.

    2. Avatar of They
      Thumb Up

      Re: Breaks it angle

      NATO said it was a policing action so wouldn't get involved, US wanted us to hand it over - something echoed by Hilary Clinton in Chile a few years back. CIA didn't care at all about us.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Breaks it angle

        The US doesn't have friends, only interests.

        1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

          Re: Breaks it angle

          That applies to all nations, ultimately.

      2. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        Re: Breaks it angle

        NATO is the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation - it has a defined area of applicability. The Falklands, being in the South Atlantic, were outside the area to which the treaty applied (the US could invoke NATO to invade Afghanistan because the trigger event was an attack in New York).

        At least, that's my understanding of why no formal NATO response could be triggered.

        I suspect that there was also an element of embarrassment for the UK Govt if they had needed to call on NATO, even more so if some NATO members hadn't then offered support.

        'Informal' / bilateral help from NATO partners was less embarrassing (for both the UK and the other nation involved, who wouldn't have to overtly burn bridges with Argentina or some of the other S. American nations).

    3. EBG

      Re: Breaks it angle

      Not what I've read about it. The US State Dept. might not have been helpful, but some other key US departments were.

      1. EvilDrSmith Bronze badge

        Re: Breaks it angle

        Yup, matches what I've read about things - the State Department wanted to back Argentina as a key ally in the war against Communism (never mind the yearly state-sponsored murders), and didn't care about the UK, because we weren't going to abandon NATO/Democracy, etc. The US military wanted to back the UK, as a (broadly) trustworthy / key military ally (that had the added advantage of being in the right), rather than a dictatorship that murdered several thousand of it's own people each year.

        1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

          Re: Breaks it angle

          Caspar Weinberger generously offered to lend us an aircraft carrier, if we manned it. Though I don’t know whether he’d got approval for that from Reagan. He did get various other kit, like Sidewinder and Stinger transferred across though.

          The Navy decided it wasn’t practical. The US carriers have huge crews and there wouldn’t have been time to train them, let alone the poor pilots.

          1. Rustbucket

            Re: Breaks it angle

            From my reading the Sidewinders were critical as they were the new model with all-aspect targeting, whereas the previous models had to be fired from behind the target aircraft so they could see the hot exhaust.

            The Argies only had the older models or their equivalent.

            1. Cihatari

              Re: Breaks it angle

              I read somewhere that the vast majority of the Sidewinder kills were within the more restricted seeker capabilities of the older model missiles and didn't really need the all-aspect ability of the nine-Lima.

          2. Wellyboot Silver badge

            Re: Breaks it angle

            Time was the critical element, there wasn't enough time get a US carrier operational in the Royal Navy before the entire campaign was over (win or lose)

            Crewing A US carrier (probably Forrestal class) could have been done simply by recruiting a few thousand recently ex US Navy sailors (politics aside).

            Training would have been mostly a refresher course for many ex-FAA Ark Royal pilots who'd moved over to the Harriers.

            Getting the actual Phantom & Bucaneer aircraft back from the RAF, now that would be the really tricky part.

    4. Blazde

      Re: Breaks it angle

      Other sources claim the CIA was supplying UK with Argentine intel before and during war, and Ted Rowlands statement dates that back to at least the late '70s when he was in the Foreign Office. It's standard that they would have supplied the intel rather than the means to obtain the intel. Even with the closest possible sharing arrangement you still want to compartmentalise sources.

      The other possibility is that GCHQ could already decrypt Crypto AG all by themselves, but wouldn't have revealed that to a TIVC technician and quite possibly would have continued to request intel from the CIA to conceal the ability from them too.

      It seems unusual for TIVC to have given raw crypto details to GCHQ. Perhaps a result of the political and technical difficulty of achieving it any other way at such short notice, and thousands of miles away. And apparently the BND had to share it with Maximator counties because 'none of its members felt able to tackle the subject on its own'. So we have this unusually open secret known by most Western intelligence agencies and generations of junior ministers from various countries, all prone to blab for political or sexual gain. Given all that I feel a bit cheated we're only getting some of the juicy details four plus decades on :)

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Breaks it angle

        "The other possibility is that GCHQ could already decrypt Crypto AG all by themselves, but wouldn't have revealed that to a TIVC technician and quite possibly would have continued to request intel from the CIA to conceal the ability from them too."

        Definitely this. If you are a state actor, and Crypto AG is an easily broken system, then there's a decent chance you have already broken it. Furthermore, you would tell more or less nobody about this. If you don't know that Crypto AG is German/US, would you tell the Germans that you broke it? And if you did know it was German/US, would you tell them? The answer's no in both cases.

        It's like sitting there nodding and smiling when two friends are conversing in their own language. You definitely don't let on that you know their language if you want to know what they really think.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Breaks it angle

      Whilst the CIA had developed a plan for handing the Falklands to Argentina, they actually gave us satellite imagery and SIGINT. They also provided Sidewinder and Stinger missiles. The French gave us details of the Exocets they had sold to Argentina. Then there was info from our own companies that had supplied equipment to Argentina (e.g. Ferranti missile fire control systems).

    6. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Breaks it angle

      "CIA had the info, UK and USA are part of 5 eyes, yet, UK had to rely on its European friends."

      Well, that problem is solved now.

  8. Mr Dogshit
    Headmaster

    There is no such verb as "to author"

    Repeat after me: there is no such verb as "to author"

    We are not Americans.

    1. Insert sadsack pun here

      Re: There is no such verb as "to author"

      Author is a verb in UK English. It's in the dictionary and everything. Interestingly, "gullible" is not officially a UK English word.

      author

      verb [ T ]

      UK /ˈɔː.θər/ US /ˈɑː.θɚ/

      formal

      to write a book, article, etc.:

      He has authored more than 30 books.

      https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/author

    2. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: There is no such verb as "to author"

      Mr Dogshit,

      Verbing of nouns has a long tradition in the english language. As do many americanisms. For example all those z spellings, e.g. realize, are actually the usual english spelling from the seventeenth century. They kept it, we swapped in the esses later. Dropping the u in colour was a US idea though.

  9. Criminals Run The World

    - HC550s and HC570s – included "rigged" algorithms, deliberately undermined "by the BND and the CIA, via their ownership of Crypto AG"

    Today, its Windows, Android, Linux, Dell, Hewlett Packard, a number of telecoms companies like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A and many hardware manufacturers. Companies cant talk about secret contracts forced on them by courts, but the spooks have never had it so easy obtaining data be it your school reports, medical records and meta data from your usage of tech like mobile phones, cars, home automation, purchases.

    Enjoy your 1984 experience and go back to sleep, Mr Sandman will be along soon to reduce your anxiety.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      The crypto is usually solid. The implementations, less so.

      Besides, the endpoints are the easiest to compromise. Why do hard maths when you can just MITM with a bog standard metasploit module.

      Tradecraft: if you are a spy in another country, your phone/computer *should* be compromisable. That's how you prove to the other side you are a clueless tourist/researcher/whatever. Bonus points for kompromat consistent with your cover.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        And don't do what I did, bring your ham equipment with you so you could "work portable and grab a few new contacts during downtime". Doesn't look good. Rightly chastised.

  10. disgruntled yank Silver badge

    """

    Historian Hugh Bicheno, in his 2006 book Razor's Edge: The Unofficial History of the Falklands War, excoriated Rowlands, writing that "this was the precise equivalent of publicly announcing, during World War II, that the Allies had broken the Enigma system used by the Nazis."

    """

    Actually the Chicago Tribune stated after Midway that the US had been decrypting the Japanese Navy's traffic. The attorney general wanted to try the publisher for treason. The Pentagon, though, considered that this would in effect confirm the information; taking no action would encourage the Japanese to suppose that this was idle brag.

    1. JJKing Silver badge
      Flame

      A wide open land surrounded by teeth.

      Some idiot Congresscritter announced in his local paper after a trip to a decoding station in Melbourne Oz that Our boys down there (it was Oz male and female decryppies) had broken the Japanese code. Japan changed the code within a couple of days of publication and it took them 3 weeks to break the new code. One of the women involved wondered how many troops were killed because some big mouthed idiot couldn't keep his gob shut.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: A wide open land surrounded by teeth.

        >>>how many troops were killed because some big mouthed idiot couldn't keep his gob shut<<<

        Not just that instance, I think you've identified the prime cause for war throughout history.

  11. Richard Parkin

    Actually Apple is controlled entirely by the FBI.The proof is that they make a song and dance about not being able to break iPhones. If they couldn’t they would keep quiet :).

  12. FunkyD

    In return we Dutch got Maxima as queen.

  13. streaky
    Mushroom

    Uhm..

    This story is complete bull, UK would have been fully aware. The Dutch probably didn't know the UK would have been fully aware - but even if neither of those things were true the Dutch wouldn't have considered for a second blowing the CIA's op. See the issue?

    Utter nonsense story. Complete unadulterated nonsense.

  14. Giovani Tapini Silver badge

    Deliberately Rigged...

    I wonder where we have heard concerns about that before...

  15. Cynic_999 Silver badge

    Stupid to buy crypto machines from a foreign company

    These days it is not difficult for even a mediocre engineer to design a secure crypto machine after a few months of studying publicly available material. Argentina certainly has the resources to make their own extremely secure crypto equipment - and/or home-grown software to run on its military field computers, so it seems to me extremely stupid of them to buy equipment from Crypto AG, which they must have known had a high probability of having back-doors. Heck - using open-source PGP applications would be safer than using anything proprietary sourced from a foreign company.

    I can understand sourcing more complex military hardware from a foreign power - but then you should surely anticipate that such hardware would have secret back-doors to enable the country that manufactured it to disable it at any time. No country would surely sell sophisticated top-end weapons to a country that may one day use them against that country without having some sort of safeguard against that possibility.

    1. Pavelow

      Re: Stupid to buy crypto machines from a foreign company

      You do realise the article refers to events almost 40 years ago.

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