On Distributed Communications Series

IX. Security, Secrecy, and Tamper-Free Considerations


This Memorandum is one in a series of eleven RAND Memoranda detailing the Distributed Adaptive Message Block Network, a proposed digital data communications system based on a distributed network concept, as presented in Vol. I in the series. [1] Various other items in the series deal with specific features of the concept, results of experimental modelings, engineering design considerations, and background and future implications.

The series, entitled On Distributed Communications, is a part of The RAND Corporation's continuing program of research under U.S. Air Force Project RAND, and is related to research in the field of command and control and in governmental and military planning and policy making.

The present Memorandum, the ninth in the series, is a consideration of the security aspects of a system of the type proposed, in which secrecy is of paramount importance. Present security concepts appear to be based upon an implied assumption that any "cleared" person must be trusted, and that any "uncleared" person is a potential spy. Further, information is either classified or it is not. From time to time a disquieting occurrence[2] causes us to wonder if these "binary" attitudes are really valid, and should form the basis upon which to predicate a military communications system for the future.

This Memorandum, in which the underlying concepts and resulting safeguards to be built into the Distributed Adaptive Message Block Network are described, is written from the viewpoint that we should fully anticipate the existence of spies within our ostensibly secure communications secrecy protection structure; hence, our primary interest should be in raising the "price" of espied information to a level which becomes excessive.

[1] A list of all items in the series is found on p. 37.

[2] Such as the William H. Martin and Vernon F. Mitchell affair at NSA; see: Sanche de Gramont, The Secret War, Dell Publishing Company, New York, p. 405.