楊晚食
楊晚食

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南非反種族隔離運動的加密溝通系統 ── Operation Vula

話說近嚟睇緊啲科技係社運嘅應用,其中一篇唔啱洗但就幾過癮,係講自家研發嘅加密溝通系統 ── Operation Vula 點樣促進南非反種族隔離運動。

面對南非政權50年代更甚嘅制度歧視,境內引發大量抗爭活動,不論係和平定勇武手段都有試,政權就用警暴鎮壓、拉左一大堆人同查禁政治組織,例如ANC (African National Congress) 同其後設立嘅民族之矛(Umkhonto we Sizwe)都被查禁,好多領袖唔係被捕坐緊監(如曼德拉)就係流亡緊。

無間道嘅加密溝通系統

流亡組織領袖或成員四散各處,主要係尚比亞嘅Lusaka同倫敦,仲有啲無間道派左返南非,佢地之間嘅溝通變得好危險,需要加密先得。但舊有嘅加密系統好cumbersome,係要紙筆手動嘅一次性密碼加密解密,每次傳遞都好耗時,直至Tim Jenkin發明左Operation Vula系統。

Tim Jenkin寫左個電腦軟件去加密、解密,用磁碟去裝住啲random data去加/解密,再有個modem會將加密訊息數字轉換為DTMF信號,記錄到cassette帶,再用電話播俾對方聽,收信方用modem就去解讀返個信號。為左安全,而每次加/解密訊息,隻磁碟都會洗清,無得重用,所以定期要搵人拎新嘅磁碟俾啲無間道,佢地搵左空姐幫手走私呢啲電腦、磁碟入南非(因為當時空姐唔洗安檢)。

過往啲無間道好易音訊全無,執行任務嘅進度同最新情報都好難聯絡到總部,而Operation Vula系統協助ANC建立有效跨國同接近實時嘅溝通,協助ANC偷運成員、走私軍火入南非,甚至連獄中嘅曼德拉都可以connect,海外/國內ANC成員可以透過律師同Operation Vula系統同曼德拉溝通,當時南非政府同曼德拉舉行左次秘密會談,仲以為曼德拉對出面局勢一無所知,估唔到曼德拉其實仍然同出面嘅戰友保持聯絡。

IT狗,你的資訊真的很有用

發明Operation Vula嘅Tim Jenkin(個樣有啲似Woody Allen)係讀soci出身,大學時「誤交損友」就加入左ANC,早期負責係南非搞leaflet炸彈,每次爆完就會散落幾百張反抗訊息嘅傳單,最終被捕入獄,但佢已經明顯係一個改裝撚,不斷改良個炸彈設計。

入獄後就開始密謀逃獄,佢個故仔仲癲過prison break,佢竟然手工用木頭整鎖鑰,足足十道門都困唔到佢,成功逃走並去左倫敦,可見佢係一個改裝、手工癲佬。佢去左倫敦就開始埋首自學咁鑽研IT通訊,值得強調嘅係當時電腦係新興科技,坊間根本無乜人會掌握呢種最新最潮嘅技術,但佢就自學、自己寫code研發Operation Vula,真係要愛惜IT狗呀!

革命組織都係要R&D架

為左keep住update個溝通系統,Tim同Ronnie Press會時刻留意有關電腦同通訊最新嘅科技發展,去左大量個展覽,仲訂閱左堆雜誌、期刊,佢地會投放相當嘅金額落「研究與開發」(R&D)。

佢地開左間空殻公司,佢地嘅身分變左間「電腦顧問」公司嘅董事,買器材同去啲展覽時就更加順理成章,而且做戲做成套,仲整埋卡片、信紙、公司印。

不分膚色的界限

即使南非種族隔離主要受害者同反抗者都係黑人,但唔少好hard core咁投身反種族隔離運動都係白人,甚至係其他國家嘅人,包括搞個Operation Vula嘅Tim Jenkin同Ronnie Press、幫手偷運磁碟、電腦都係白人,仲有大量白人幫手做無間道,真係繽紛色彩閃出的美麗。

當然2019年都有好多好撚勁嘅intellectual同技術input,個hkmap.live真係夠我J好耐,但而家運動係咪都要有啲人好似Tim咁用心用力走係技術潮流嘅尖啄呢。

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Garrett, R. K., & Edwards, P. N. (2007). Revolutionary Secrets: Technology’s Role in the South African Anti-Apartheid Movement. Social Science Computer Review, 25(1), 13–26.

The Vula Connection
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WyeAaYjlxE&feature=emb_title

How the ANC sent encrypted messages in the fight against apartheid
https://mybroadband.co.za/news/security/131822-how-the-anc-sent-encrypted-messages-in-the-fight-against-apartheid.html

Tim Jenkin: Talking with Vula
https://omalley.nelsonmandela.org/omalley/index.php/site/q/03lv03445/04lv03996/05lv04001.htm

//Ronnie and I had long been investigating various communications options. Every day new products were coming on the market and we had to be ever watchful of new developments in the computer and communications fields. We attended countless exhibitions and subscribed to a range of magazines and journals. There was no shortage of funds so we were able to invest considerable amounts in 'research and development'.


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