- It was first posted on /b/
- Words like "TROOP" and "AGENT" are encoded in ASCII, and accessible by (nearly) any "passcode" that the user types in
and the dead giveaway in my mind:
- The "please stay on the line for the next available circuit" message played by the number was found to have been originally recorded by Time Warner Cable... No serious entity with any use for a numbers station would bother to steal a recorded message from a cable company.
So it's not real (duh :(). Part of me hopes it's an ARG, but in my heart of hearts, I know someone is just trolling /b/, albeit extremely masterfully.
I'm pretty sure the NSA has better ciphers for phones than poorly coded ASCII. Isn't there an art installation at the NSA that still hasn't been cracked after 20 years?
I'm not firm in this belief because of the open nature of a phone line like this (that part seems fine), but because there is no reason for a real switch to use actual terminology like "agent" and "compromised."
This reminds me a lot of a Capture the Flag contest: you know you're not really hacking an intelligence agency, but sometimes it's fun to pretend.
This is how numbers stations work: you send alpha-numeric codes over shortwave, which assets in the field then decode using one time pads.
So generally speaking, transmitting intelligence over an unencrypted land-line wouldn't shock me in and of itself.
We made use of many of the unused numbers, some as mysterious messages such at this, others for less cryptic but no less entertaining fake organizations. Then we'd place free ads in the various free weeklies that cover many cities and college towns with the phone numbers we'd set up.
Ah, the olden days. If we'd had the web, we'd have been real trouble.
Intelligence agencies use the simplest systems of transmitting data because they're proven to work. Dead drops are another great example of what on the surface seems horrifically insecure (you want me to leave my intelligence in a public place for anyone to find?) but that in practice work extremely well.