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British Ministers Adopt Unbreakable Crypto
The UK is replacing the traditional "red boxes" used by ministers to
carry their work home with them with high tech laptops.
They will use a signet ring and fingerprints to control access to the
There will be a "Duress Finger." :)
LONDON (AP) -- It's a briefcase even James Bond could love.
Britain's more adventurous Cabinet ministers soon will be spiriting
laptop computers inside their signature ``Red Box'' briefcases,
complete with fingerprint recognition systems and silent alarms.
The stacks of papers, briefing documents and constituency
correspondence that now go home with each minister in lead-lined red
briefcases will be replaced in a few months by a specially designed
super-secure laptop -- capable of carrying infinitely more homework.
At $4,000 each, the prototypes unveiled Tuesday are seen as a symbol
of the modern Britain so often touted by the Labor Party and are being
billed as a way to make government work more efficiently.
They will not, however, be foisted on ministers who prefer the
old-fashioned paper route -- but those holdouts will miss an
electronic voice that chirps ``Good morning, minister'' each time the
computer is turned on.
Each computer, built into the briefcase, will come with a security
system that uses a signet ring and fingerprints to control access to
the computer. Ministers who eschew jewelry can have the signet ring's
smart-card incorporated into another device, such as a keychain or
The fingerprint function also requires an alternate finger to be
programmed in case the minister cuts the one designated, thereby
corrupting the fingerprint.
``It has certainly been billed as very James Bond-ish and I suppose we
are 'Q,' '' said Alan Rushworth, managing director of Rhea
International, the company that designed the security system, likening
himself to the 007 character who outfits James Bond with all his
``There is even a duress finger,'' Rushworth said. ``That is for if a
terrorist or gunman has a gun to the minister's head forcing him to
open the computer. It will appear to function normally but doesn't,
and sends a silent alarm to the Cabinet Office.''
No ``top secret'' documents will be loaded on the computers because
such material is seldom transmitted electronically for security
reasons, a government spokeswoman said.
Even American security experts could not breach the computer's
security system, Rushworth boasted.
``The Cabinet office has used its best government hackers for
extensive penetration testing and they couldn't break it,'' he said.
``It has also been tried by our cousins on the other side of the
Atlantic -- and they couldn't get in either.''
Eric Michael Cordian 0+
O:.T:.O:. Mathematical Munitions Division
"Do What Thou Wilt Shall Be The Whole Of The Law"