Sunday, October 21, 2007

FAPSI - Russia's SIGINT Agency

The Russian FAPSI (Federalnoye Agentsvo Pravitelstvennoi Svayazi I Informatsii) was Russia's Federal Agency for Government Communications and Information. In short: the Russian equivalent to the American NSA or British GCHQ.

After the reforms in 1991, the KGB was divided into several different smaller agencies. One of them was FAPSI, created from the KGB's 8th Main Directorat (communication and cryptography), the 12 Directorat (eavesdropping) and the 16th Directorat (interception of communications and Signal Intelligence). FAPSI was responsible for SIGINT (Signal Intelligence), government communications, cryptography in all its aspects and information technology.

FAPSI operated a large satellite network (since the 1970's more than 130 satellites) for interception and communications and had a large number of SIGINT stations around the world. One of the largest was located in Lourdes, Cuba. An enormous interception facility at the doorstep of the US, in the footprint of several American satellites, and a transmitter site of numbers stations. Another large station was located in Cam Ranh Bay, Vietnam.

If you think only the West has its Echelon SIGINT collection, you forgot FAPSI, with far more personnel than NSA and GCHQ together! Inside Russia, FAPSI monitored civil and government communications and was responsible for approving all cryptographic software (other crypto software is forbidden in Russia).

FAPSI incorporated the Military School of FAPSI (aka the world largest hackers school) and the Military School of Communications. FAPSI also employed graduates from the Academy of Cryptography of the FSB (not a school but a "scientific organisation", read codebreakers). FAPSI also provided secure communications to the Leaders of the Russian Federation and encrypted HF telephone communications for the government. All together an enormous service that controlled all communications security and gathers large quantities of information, home and abroad.

From 2003 to 2004, FAPSI was gradually dissolved and its various departments were integrated in departments of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) and in the Service of Special Communications and Information (Spetssvyaz) from the Federal Protective Service of the Russian Federation (FSO). The recourses and operations of FAPSI remained largly the same, but are now controlled by other agencies of the Russian Federation.

More about FAPSI on, KGB Military School (archived page) and the Federation of American Scientists.

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