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Communications Privacy Software

This Is What the World's Spies Used Instead of MSN Messenger (vice.com) 65

An anonymous reader writes: What do spies use to chat online? A terribly ugly Windows programme. At least, that's what the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (made up of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) was using back in 2003, according to a newly released Snowden document. "The Five-Eyes SIGINT [signals intelligence] Directors will soon be using a new tool to enhance their collaboration on subjects ranging from current intelligence objectives to future collection planning," reads an issue of SID Today, the NSA's internal newsletter, dating from September 2003. InfoWorkSpace (IWS), as the tool is called, allowed text chat, audio conferencing, shared screen views, and virtual whiteboards, the newsletter explains. It adds that, at the time, some 4,000 NSA and Five Eyes employees were already using IWS to work on a number of topics, such as international terrorism, real-time collection coordination, and Operation Enduring Freedom, the term given to operations in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. The newsletter announcement refers to SIGINT Directors gaining access to the tool. Another Snowden document published by The Intercept notes that senior officials held their first virtual meeting with IWS around December 2003, but that "GCHQ was unable to attend due to a computer failure."
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This Is What the World's Spies Used Instead of MSN Messenger

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    YOU won't believe how ugly this weird secret messagging app is!

    • YOU won't believe how ugly this weird secret messagging app is!

      I know, right, it is almost like they didn't expect the whole world to look at it and check if they were being trendy enough. As if they just wanted a business tool, or something.

  • Misspelling (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    They misspelt "Operation Ending Freedom".

  • Ugly? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Comboman ( 895500 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @01:37PM (#52685219)

    A terribly ugly Windows programme.

    What's your problem? It looks like every other program written in 2003.

    • Re:Ugly? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by sl3xd ( 111641 ) on Thursday August 11, 2016 @01:59PM (#52685413) Journal

      A terribly ugly Windows programme.

      Isn't calling a windows program ugly redundant?

      It's pretty sad that most Linux applications have a more attractive UI than Windows; even back in 2003.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      A terribly ugly Windows programme.

      What's your problem? It looks like every other program written in 2003.

      Their problem is the people publishing the Snowden leaks have a fixation against the United States and want to make even the most asinine detail appear in the most negative light possible. What a great whistle blower... Blowing the whistle on 2000s era GUI design....

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It looks simple and functional. Something you don't see anymore. Hell, a lot nicer than GNOME. Firefox? LOL. Sheesh.

  • It's classified U//FOUO! You could have probably gotten that document through a FOIA request.

  • Honestly what the program looked like means nothing at all. Was it peer to peer or server based? encrypted end to end using what? Because there have been online collaboration tools like that available both commercially and open source at the same time frame.

    Honestly I am surprised they were not using Tandberg Codecs with the advanced encryption options that would allow point to point calling with routing and conferencing capabilities. the company I worked for back then sold a LOT of Tandbergs to milit

  • Anybody got a price and/or torrent? It seems to be a fairly closely guarded secret.

    A publicly available alternative wouldn't hurt.

  • Is this encrypted? Because I have been repeatedly told encryption is for terrorists.
  • So, 13 years ago they were using some funky secure chat program...

    And?

  • It's kind of sad that you think we should use leaky protocols and code, when our old code works just fine, but you're not cleared to know about it.

    Nice try, n00bZ

  • Lol it's written in Java. Shouldn't take long for someone to exploit it.
  • FreeTel 1999 FTW http://web.archive.org/web/199... [archive.org]
  • To me that looks like a Java desktop application using Swing. The shading of the toolbars and the bold fonts are a dead giveaway.

    So, yeah. It looks awful. :P

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