Förderverein Informationstechnik und Gesellschaft

FC: So nukes don't blow up...

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Date:          Sun, 11 Apr 1999 22:17:41 -0400
From:          Declan McCullagh <>
Subject:       FC: So nukes don't blow up...

This is a fascinating report on the technology used to prevent
unauthorized detonation of nuclear weapons. Of relevance to this list,
perhaps, is how encryption is used (or isn't). The author is Steven
Bellovin of AT&T Research.


What is a PAL?

A PAL -- a "Permissive Action Link" -- is the box that is supposed to
prevent unauthorized use of a nuclear weapon. "Unauthorized" covers a
wide range of sin, from terrorists who have stolen bombs to insane
American military officers to our allies who may have some of their
own uses for bombs that are covered by joint use agreements. It's
supposed to be impossible to "hot-wire" a nuclear weapon. Is it? 

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