A new book, recently published, looks back at the spy war between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, telling the story of a long-running supply chain attack: mysterious Soviet engineers cleverly replacing IBM typewriter parts to listen to the typists at the U.S. Embassy, a secret that the NSA’s electrical engineers took years to uncover.
Several American spies were arrested in the late 1970s, but the U.S. intelligence community does not know how their identities were revealed. For the first time, the eight-wood antenna from the false chimney cavity unwittingly discovered by the Moscow Embassy is still unknown.
The NSA engineer, who has been searching for this for years, was authorized by President Reagan to safely pack and ship all electronic equipment from the embassy back to the United States. Each device is disassembled and scanned with X-rays.
After tens of thousands of scans, technicians found a small coil in the on/off switch of an IBM typewriter, which Gandy believes acts as a voltage-down to supply low-voltage electricity to the contents of the printer.
He eventually discovered that multiple parts in the printer had been replaced, that a solid aluminum rod of the same shape was empty, that was placed on a circuit board and six magnetometers, that the magnetometer-aware movement keys were stored and encrypted and sent.