Wednesday, August 16, 2006

KGB General Solomatin Interview

One of the most famous and damaging spy cases in the US was the John Walker Spy Ring. John Walker, a naval communications specialist, walked into the Soviet Embassy in Washington in 1968 and offered to sell Navy secrets for cash to the Russians.

Over a period of 17 years he provided the Russians with crucial information about cryptographic systems, their technical drawing and passed them the secret daily key sheets of machines such as the KW-7 and KL-7. All this time Soviet Intelligence could read all encrypted message traffic from the US Navy and Army.

His game ended in 1985 when a deaddrop was observed by FBI agents. Walker was imprisoned for life. This was not the end of the story! US intelligence had to make a damage assessment. What did the Russians knew and what damage caused this to US security? Well, to be short, Walker's work was devastating and the Russians knew the most sensitive military secrets.

But who can explain this better than retired KGB General Boris Solomatin (picture), responsible for handling the Walker Spy Ring. Pete Earley's very interesting interview with Solomatin (pdf incl. pictures) shows how false confidence in crypto systems and unpredictable people can damage a nation's security. It's a great opportunity to hear the Russian side of the story. Another source, on US side, is the pdf Analysis of the Systemic Security Weaknesses of the U.S. Navy Fleet Broadcasting System, 1967-1974, as Exploited by CWO John Walker.

Solomatin (Соломатин Борис Александрович) died December last year. If you're interested, you can find Solomatin's bio on this SVR page.


paul turcksin said...

Fascinating reading, especially the interview with KGB General Boris Solomatin.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting but would be much better with date of the interview. Tks, Ed