Sunday, September 19, 2010

Numbers Stations: A Comprehensive, Exhaustive List Of Resources

Numbers stations started in the cold-war era, possibly WW1 and continuing into this modern day. SWA has written other articles on these stations. Until now, there was no one-stop comprehensive, exhaustive, resource for learning about these stations. Two important questions arise about these numbers operations today: Are they just distractions with no real world function & aired only for novelty purposes to get SWL's all excited? Are they operating with a real purpose in the world for communicating with intelligence agents known as "spies", or do they operate simply to test their equipment just in case?

To this day, no government agency in the world will admit to running a numbers station. Some people have taken to the road with direction finding equipment.Yet, in a 1998 article published in "The Daily Telegraph", an official spokesperson for the U.K. agency that regulated radio regulations at the time was allegedly quoted as admitting that numbers stations are indeed what the public thinks they are that that no one should be mystified by it because the information is not for public consumption.

Numbers stations have come to be known as OWVL (One Way Voice Links) that could be used to communicate with the desired party so long as the party could justify possession of the shortwave receiver, was not under technical surveillance, and was well trained in the tradecraft.

Let's start with press articles first:  

NPR Article one

NPR Article two

NPR Article three mentioning Akin Fernandez

Espionage Is in The Air: Miami Times

Counting Spies:

Dark Side of The Band:

Secrets in The Static:

Hold The Front Page: Espionage Story About The Gaul

In NPR article two above, the following people are credited: Simon Mason, David Mussell and Tom Sevart, Chris Smolinski, as well as "The Conet Project". SWA went in search of these individuals on-line, and looked into "The Conet Project".

Washington Times five page article also featuring Mr. Akin Fernandez: "The Shortwave and The Calling"

Conet Project Specific Links:
Conet Project PDF
Conet Project Free, Legal download

Simon Mason: SWA has linked to his site in the links below, see his work there.
David Mussel: Only information found consisted of references to his collaboration on the Conet Project
Tom Sevart: Same as David Mussel
Chris Smolinski: Runs the Spooks List linked to in this article

Criminal arrests / terrorist efforts involving numbers stations:
2001: Cuban Five, Ana Belen Montes (Senior US Defense Intelligence Agency Analyst)
2006: Carlos & Elsa Alvarez
June 2009: Walter Kendall Meyers, who worked with the Cuban Intelligence Service
Oleg Penkovsky

Groups & Information Sources: None of this information is guaranteed to be accurate or up to date, as we know that radio communications practices change constantly. The exception to the rule is the Enigma2000 group who has a rather active group of people who keep everything as up to date as possible.

Enigma2000 Official Website
Enigma 2000 Yahoo Group
CVNI Radio
UK Intelligence Yahoo Group
Secret - Worlds SigInt Group: Site is in German but Google will translate
HF Underground Numbers Station Discussion Forum
Welcome To Numbers Stations
Global Frequency Database
If Not For 15 Minutes
The Numbers Game
Numbers Monitoring featuring MP3 recordings
Using Elliptic Curves
Very LARGE library of numbers station information
Numbers Stations by Fitz Nusser
Secret Radio Frequencies numbers article
dxzone numbers stations
Google search results for Numbers Stations
Mike N Sniffy's Radio Site
MilAirComms Site
Shortwave Underground: Comprehensive Look At Numbers Stations
Ary's Numbers Page: MUST SEE
Mystery Signals

On-Line Numbers Relay Pages: Please be careful how you use these, as they have the potential to be used the wrong way!

Numbers Relay Page

Videos Of Numbers Stations:
Youtube search results: Spy Numbers Stations
KUTV Video About Numbers Stations

PDF Files Concerning Numbers Stations:

Wikipedia Reference Section: Numbers Station. It's a paper on Cuban Agent Communications based on the FBI & court documents. This section also contains the PDF file relating to "United States v. Walter Kendall Myers, United States District Court, District of Columbia, no. xxx."

See the entire Wikipedia entry for "Numbers Station" HERE

Electronic Analysis & Related Items:
Spectrogram version 5.0 is a freeware dual channel audio spectrum analyzer for Windows 95/98/NT which can provide either a scrolling time-frequency display or a spectrum analyzer scope display in real time for any sound source connected to your sound card. (License: Free)

1. Analysis and identification of biological sounds
2. Analysis and identification of human speech
3. Analysis of musical performances
4. Tuning of musical instruments
5. Evaluation and calibration of home audio systems
6. Ham Radio audio reception and tuning
7. Analysis of radio interference including atmospheric electromagnetic effects

Intelligence News & Educational References:
Eye Spy Magazine
Eye Spy List Of Intelligence Services World-Wide
Eye Spy De-classified Intelligence Information
Eye Spy Intelligence Links
History Of Polish Intelligence Service
Worldwide Intelligence Service Listing Wiki
GCHQ: Britain's Most Secret Intelligence Agency

List Of Numbers Stations Heard Over Time As Reported By Various SWL's along with Wikipedia / other links if available:

Russian Morse Number Station M12
The MOSSAD Voice Number Station E10
Magnetic Fields
Edna Sednitzer
Swedish Rhapsody
Tyrolian Music
E13 Lincolnshire Poacher 
UVB-76 known as "The Buzzer" 
Yosemite Sam 
Cherry Ripe

Understanding numbers stations classifications
You'll notice each numbers station has an alpha-numerical identifier assigned to it. Here's what they mean:  

E = English speaking station
G=German speaking station
S=Slavic speaking station
T=Station in unknown language
M=Morse Code station (CW in today's popular terms although it is technically incorrect)
V=any language not noted in this list elsewhere
X=all other transmissions including digital modes, polytones, etc

Cryotography Links:

Cryptography Wiki

Enigma Machine Wiki

Cryptanalysis Of The Enigma

Cypher Bureau

One Time Pad

One Time Pad Detailed Guide

Cypher Machines & Cryptology

Cryptologic Museum Article: U.S. NSA / Central Security Service

Codebreaking & Secret Weapons In World War 2

Enigma & Intelligence

Cipher Wiki

Voice & Data Ciphering

Code & Cryptography Wiki

Japanese Naval Codes: JN25

Bletchley Park

This from Wikipedia under the creative commons license :

Two true stories from Shortwave America:
While listening some long time ago, this author witnessed V2 (Cuban Numbers Lady) use the same pad a second time! Around September 12th, 2010, Shortwave America posted a signal report on V2 as heard on 5885Khz, and within SECONDS after the post was published at HFUnderground, V2's signal was full strength commercial quality! Be careful posting what you hear, they just might be watching the message boards ladies & gents!

In the modern day, encrypted communications are said to be absolutely impossible to crack although the reality is that every type of communications including encryption has it's shortcomings. These numbers stations are not using encryption however, because we can hear their voices and encryption means the listener hears a signal but with the difference that there exists "digital hash" on top of the voice, thus making the voice or data transmission unintelligible. This type of encryption is mostly encountered with Motorola(tm) systems that use 128 bit type encryption or better. Although this encryption can be used on the HF bands, it isn't used because it's more of a pain than anything else and it costs major amounts of cash to obtain and maintain. With these systems, there is always the threat of the loss of the digital encryption key under certain circumstances.
Even the U.S. Military uses a system of ciphering that allows them to send EAM's in the clear because no one will ever figure out what the message is about...they use a one time pad, one time key, etc.
Common knowledge is that a member of the Enigma2000 group broke a numbers station pad!
What you now know is that these numbers stations are not a novelty, not a distraction, not some pirate playing games, but real communications directing intelligence agents of the world to carry out their orders. The conspiracy theories end here, and real learning has begun. Enjoy this article, refer to it as often as you need, pass it along to other people, it was a pleasure to put this piece together for all of the readers and participants of the radio world!


Saoirse said...

Wow, what a lot of information ... well done, that's a great article! :)


Dirk Rijmenants said...

great list!

regarding the arrests, here's a paper on Cuban agent communications, which describes in detail the failure of numbers stations. The detailed paper is based on FBI and court documents:

More here:

Emily said...

Thanks for compiling all these links in one place; having spent a lot of time chasing information across the web, compilations like this are something I really appreciate.

Ruthie Rader said...

*You don't have to prove to me that you're beautiful to strangers*

Hello from Ruthie In The Sky down at the Sunset Grille.