back to article Spooks scramble to replace failed secret messaging system

MI6 and GCHQ have begun work to replace an aborted secret communications system that wasted tens of millions of pounds. The failed project, SCOPE Phase II, was run out of the Cabinet Office with IBM as the main contractor. The intelligence agencies have taken direct control of its replacement, CLiC (Collaboration in the …


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  1. Sooty

    SCOPE Phase 2

    The "Special" communications system :)

  2. Andy 97

    Please can we have.....

    a Nelson off The Simpsons pointing and doing a "ha-ha" icon.

  3. smudge
    Black Helicopters

    Doesn't matter....

    ... how they implement it. The difficult bit will still be getting the agencies to work together.

  4. Ralph B

    I'll do it for half the price

    ROT13 in Twitter.

  5. Mystic Megabyte

    To save costs....

    ......they went for SpooKubuntu!

  6. John G Imrie
    Black Helicopters


    "We are doing really quite well on this more modest CLiC programme, which is not being run out of the Cabinet Office, it is being run out of SIS and GCHQ,"

    Is this the revenge of the intelligence agencies over being dropped in the brown stuff over the Iraq war?

    1. Alan Firminger


      It is self evident that gchq must have more understanding of secure communications than any other UK body. They are laughing because the Cabinet Office was so conceited that it thought it could succeed.

  7. slooth

    I'm confused

    "and pilot a shared work space for organised crime allowing SOCA, MI6 and GCHQ to collaborate."

    Does this mean that organised crime has actually been legal all this while?????

    Sounds like it to me, because the government are also a bunch of crooks.

  8. Gaius

    What's wrong with...

    ... a bog-standard email system, airgapped off from the real world? Et Robert est ton mere's frere, as they say in France.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can't they just use Twitter or create a Facebook group?

    Besides, I thought the preferred way for UK intelligence people to share information was to use something called a 'dead drunk drop', whereby an officer gets smashed in a tapas bar and either leaves behind his briefcase for the enjoyment of his fellow diners, or his laptop on the train home afterwards?

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    whatever happened to Cloudcover?

    Simple, secure and in theory cheap messenging system by GCHQ and others back in the mid-90's. Seems to have died a death unless it morphed into CLiC, in which case lots of money was probably wasted trying to get Exchange to do secure email.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Can I get those 24 million Pounds ??

    I promise to even integrate GCHQ crypto into OpenSSL and GPG. Yearly maintenance charges apply, of course.

    And if they want to talk to me on the phone I will bill 500 Pounds/hour for each started hour, ofcourze.

    My company is named IGE - International Government Exploiters Corp.

  12. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Very Hooveresqe but oh so Dated and out of Touch with the Virtual Reality of Post ModernIT.

    Finally, the dawning of the realisation that New Labour sold out a special relationship to a foreign power? And that was probably aided and abetted with some dirty little personal secrets on file ... for sublime leverage.

    Or if you prefer, a foreign power ceding/losing control to a crazy Executive and trying to build an Empire with Con Quests and Conquests.

  13. Mike Shepherd

    It's a bargain

    " aborted secret communications system that wasted tens of millions of pounds"

    If only the typical government IT screw-up could be had so cheaply.

  14. Sonny Jim

    They forgot the most simple rule


    Most governments today use things called 'Number Stations', which basically is a radio station that transmits long streams of number read out by a robot voice on shortwave. The Spy then uses an el-cheapo world service radio to pick these transmissions up and are then decoded via a one time pad.

    This procedure has been in use for nearly over 100 years now for the following reasons:

    1. There's no traceable 'end point', in any internet transaction you will always need to know the address of where you are sending it. With radio, there is no feasible way of tracking someone who is only listening (not transmitting)

    2. You don't need an expensive/hard to get/fragile bit of computer hardware to receive messages, you just need an old skool radio which you can get (or build) in pretty much any location in the world. Plus it's a lot easier in terms plausible deniability, try explaining away that swish sat phone to the Taliban when they catch you!

    The UK stopped it's Number Station transmissions (Google "The lincolnshire poacher") a fair while ago and most enthusiasts assumed they had moved to a different technology, which this seem to bear out.

    Mines the one with the Degen 1103 and edible one-time pad.

    1. Ian 62
      Black Helicopters

      @Sonny Jim .. Great idea

      Wow.. you could cause paranoia and chaos..

      I'm tempted to go create a youtube account and start streaming clips of numbers

      Numbers Station for the web2.0

    2. Anonymous Coward


      being caught with a OTP is a dead ( sometimes literally ) give away.

      1. prathlev


        Bah... you just have to memorize the one-time pad, m-kay?

        1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

          The Flip Side of Unbreakable Security* is Breaking Glass Ceilings with Responsible Revelations

          The Internet is not a Tool for Hiding Information and Intelligence, it is a Simple Easy Accessed Platform for Presenting Future Knowledge/Raising Stakes with Remote Power Controllers in Charge of your Development/Intellectual Evolution.

          * There is no such thing, of course, and thus is any offer of such a thing, a blatant fraud being perpetrated.

  15. Anonymous Coward


    not only is organised crime legal, it's what MI6, GCHQ and SOCA have been collaborating on?

  16. Anonymous Coward

    NSA / CIA

    The contract was given to IBM ? So it's OK for the USA (CIA / NSA) to listen in (and possibly intefere with) our top secret communications ?

    Who got sacked for the past failings ? Where is the accountability ?

  17. Sonny Jim

    @Ian 62: It's already been done

    There was a hoax 'Number station' on craiglist a while ago:

    But as I said, putting Number stations on the internet removes it's biggest plus, the fact that noone can tell who you are sending it to. There's no IP logs in a shortwave transmitter, but there is on a webserver.

  18. Anonymous Coward


    ??? HMRC, why do HMRC need to be on a secure email system with SIS and GCHQ. Surely some mistake?

  19. Anon 4


    Just because IBM UK is US owned does not mean that the US has any access whatsoever to details of what projects it undertakes. Most people who work for IBM UK are British and any of them working on secure projects have the necessary clearance to work on them. It really annoys me when you get silly comments like that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      US Companies = US Govt Control

      Actually, thanks to little slippets in our "antiterrorism accounting" measures, information on projects, including government projects in other lands, can be audited by US agencies in the attempt to "intercept and control sensitive information that might be useful to terrorists through US companies and corporations."

      Don't think its happening now? When NSA plugs a snoop-box into IBM's global network to sniff out packets coming and from from No. 10's procurement offices for "project approvals and summaries"(done and done?), don't come crying...

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