Norwegian Intelligence Service acquires supercomputer

By EDRi · May 7, 2014

According tothe leaked NSA internal information paper “NSA Intelligence Relationship with Norway”, the Norwegian Intelligence Service NIS is acquiring a supercomputer codenamed Steelwinter as part of a 100 million dollar investment program, to be able to crack strong cryptology and analyse vast amounts of data.

“NIS is in the process of acquiring Steel Winter (a Windsorblue derivative supercomputer) and has entered into a partnership with NSA – cryptanalysis ( …) service to develop applications of mutual benefit,”

says NSA’s internal information paper. The document, marked “top secret” is a summary of how the NSA sees the collaboration with Norway after a meeting between the two services in March 2013.

The Norwegian military intelligence service collects large amounts of signal intelligence (SIGINT), and listens to satellites and radio communications. Processing vast amounts of data collected has become an increasingly important part of the surveillance programs of intelligence services worldwide.

Some of the most interesting data NIS collects are encrypted, and the extensive processes for decryption require huge amounts of computing power.

“It is not possible to crack strong cryptography even with today’s most powerful computers,”

said researcher and cryptologist Havard Raddum at Simula Research Laboratory and the University of Bergen. But the encryption used is not always strong, or parts of the encryption key are already familiar to those trying to crack the code.

“Then, a supercomputer would be helpful,”

he said.

In the past, NIS has been sending data to NSA to be analysed, but they now seek to do that in Norway. “NIS handles larges amounts of data and need a relatively high computing power,” NIS top Kjell Grandhagen commented on the acquisition. He emphasizes that NIS does not monitor Norwegians in Norway.

NIS aquires supercomputer (26.04.2014)

Norwegian intelligence: NIS working on the code cracking with NSA (only in German, 28.04.2014)

Steel Winter: NSA supercomputer sold to Norwegian intelligence (only in German, 28.04.2014)