What’s one way to combat cybersecurity? Don’t use PCs, smartphones or other mobile devices at all. That’s what Germany is proposing: Ditch electronic communications of any kind and return to the typewriter for sensitive documents.
In the wake of the NSA spying scandal, German political circles claimed that the NSA had been monitoring German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone during November of last year. Because of this, German politicians are currently permitted to use only encrypted email and encrypted mobile phones.
Recently, German politician, Patrick Sensburg, said on German television that he and his colleagues are considering this old-fashioned technology.
“As a matter of fact, we have, and not electronic models,” said Sensburg, referring to the use of manual typewriters. “No joke.”
In response to Sensburg’s comments, other politicians are attacking the use of the typewriter saying it’s “ridiculous” and “absurd.”
On Twitter, one Tweet described the idea of using the typewriter to prevent threats as the “paradox of technology” while another said, “Well, you can’t hack a typewriter.”
Still others suggested using a computer that is disconnected from the Internet. A Russian news commentator said, “Why use typewriters? They could just use word processors and computers without networking capabilities.”
On RT.com, Alex Povolotski writes, “Manual typewriters are no good either. The vibrations they create affect window vibrations as well as in the building. Through that, you can determine which key is pressed at one given time. Also, you could plant a good old keylogger that will log the keys being pressed and will wirelessly transmit this data.”
Although I learned to type in high school on an electric typewriter, I’m not so sure that is the best technology for sensitive communication as the document itself could fall into the hands of the wrong person. Nevertheless, typewriter sales are seeing a boom in Germany as people are going to almost forgotten technology to thwart cyber spying.