Ray Adams’ spy network at Cambridge University: NewsCorp/NDS has its sources

One of the lesser known features of the ring of agents that former Scotland Yard Commander Ray Adams ran for NewsCorp/NDS was that he had an informant placed at Cambridge University to spy on its cryptology work.

It’s become something of a cliché, the relationship between Cambridge and various spy agencies. But corporations getting involved in spying at university—or rather a media company having spies at a university—seems to me to take it all to a whole different level,

Ray Adams, European head of Operational Security for NDS, was concerned to keep tabs on Markus Kuhn, who was finishing his Ph D at Cambridge in the late 1990s, and Professor Ross Anderson.

NDS had a codename—Castor—for Kuhn. When I told him about it earlier this year he said he found it quite amusing—“sounds all a bit like childish spy games”.

The NDS email correspondence makes it clear they watched Markus very closely, in part because of concern over his friendship with Oliver Koemmerling, which they feared might lead to disclosure of NDS’s operations.

Yossi Tsuria wrote to Oliver at some length about this danger. Markus was no long working on smartcards. However in the email exchange below it’s clear that there were grounds for concern over Markus’s acuity. But Adams correctly concluded it wasn’t a danger.

In any case, he said, “Also bear in mind that I have a source at his workplace.”

In Adams’ world, a source was not a casual association. It was a paid informant, if not an active agent.

Adams gave no further indications of who his informant was. “I have a total of 17 agents,” he had told John Norris, US head of NDS Op Sec, three months before.

The payroll for all these informants and the rest of NDS Operational Security in Britain came to more than £1 million for a six-month period. And that was only one part of the worldwide NDS OpSec operation. Agents or informants appeared on the NDS budget under “Consultancy”. Contacts was a highly elastic term. The largest expense was ADSR, Oliver Koemmerling’s company.

Security Information £44,856.83
Contacts   £711,083.19
Informants   £4,000.00
Consultancy   £290,067.00
Total   £1,050,007.02
ADSR   671,490.00
Non-ADSR   £378,517.02

The email exchange that mentions Adams’ Cambridge “source” is below. The email chain reads from the bottom. Reuven Hasak is the head of Operational Security. Marc (Cyberdine) is Oliver Koemmerling. RA is Professor Ross Anderson. Yossi is Yossi Tsuria, NDS chief technology officer. Adi is Adi Shamir, the Israeli academic whose Fiat-Shamir algorithm was the basis for NDs encryption.

 From:              Adams, Ray [SMTP:RAdams@ndsuk.com]

Sent:                Friday, January 22, 1999 4:01 AM

To:                  Hasak, Reuven; cyberdyne@euro1.com

Cc:                   Adams, Ray

Subject:           RE: fishers fritz fishes fresh fish

Marc and I discussed.

It is our belief that MK knows enough to be certain.   He is a very intelligent man.   Anyway we are also convinced that he does not pose a threat and will not repeat outside.   Also bear in mind that I have a source at his workplace.

So we will just let it die.   I do not think it will be raised again.

Thanks  Ray.

—–Original Message—–

From: Hasak, Reuven

Sent: 21 January 1999 15:58

To: cyberdyne@euro1.com

Cc: radams@ndsuk.com

Subject: RE: fishers fritz fishes fresh fish

Importance: High


My initial approach is NOT to disclose the fact to MK (and naturely it goes from MK to RA).etc.

We have to bear in mind that now when NDS does have open contacts with the two, will cause that in case they know of Alex it will become a common knowledge and we’ll lose control on it.

The response to MK should be vague and leave him UNCONFIRMED. Alex answer should be  ” Yes, NDs tried to be a friend/customer—-let them try…..” The same respose should come from Yossi, in case he’ll be asked.

BTW—-Yossi SHOULD take part in this decision because he is the one to have contacts with all the three: Alex/Mk/Ra. I’ll communicate with Yossi .

If we leave it like this, it will be just one more rumor about Alex (though I am aware to the fact that MK is closer to alex than others).The maximum will be that MK will ask others.

I find out it is too early to take a disclosure approach, we do not have to hurry disclosing the fact. Let us exchange opinions and get together to a smart decision.

Reuven Hasak

—–Original Message—–

From: Marc [mailto:cyberdyne@euro1.com]

Sent: Thursday, January 21, 1999 11:21 AM

To: Rhasak@ndsisrael.com

Cc: radams@ndsuk.com

Subject: fishers fritz fishes fresh fish

At 21:13 20.01.99 +0200, you wrote:


> Is there possibility that MK is aware that you are one of us?

> Reuven Hasak

id like to know what happened to make you suspecting this cause MK asked me the same thing tonight.

i think he knows already and looking for acknowledge. i told Yossi after ross came to me that he got the 1 needle trick from adi and also adi told ross that he has an NDA and can not talk about it. but what he say’ed was enough for ross to figure out  the trick. when i had the argument with Marcus to remove that from the paper he told me that they know it from adi since this technique is very unlikely and unique they must wonder on  which way the information is  floating. even ross told me in the face when he  was here either you told nds or you told somebody who told nds.in this statement ross is not talking about adi anymore he talks about nds so i assume that adi told him that he has an nda with nds when he discussed the trick with ross, otherwise ross would not have mentioned nds instead of  adi in his statement.

so the answer to your question is yes their is a very big chance that he knows unless MK is superstitious and belive that Adi Shamir is a= fortuneteller.

As i know Marcus i don’t see a big problem but i think it would be more safe to tell him about it cause i think he will handle the information more

carefully If he is trusted by us.

———–here my translation of his message=


Hi oli

yesterday we had visited nds in heathrow. i belive more and more that they belong to your customers. as a test i mentioned your name to Yossi several times and observed his reaction carefully.

if he would know you just passively then i would expect to get his interest but instead he looked aside for a moment and his face showed an expression as you name embarrasses him somehow. many people are as easy to read out as smart cards. so no more excuses.

—————- here the German message from markus —————–

Hi, Oli!

Gestern haben wir NDS in Heathrow besucht. Ich glaube immer mehr,dass die irgendwie zu deinen Kunden geh=F6ren. Ich habe zum Test mehrfach deinen Namen genannt, so getan als ob die dich kennen m=FCssten, und dabei Yossi’s Reaktion genau beobachtet. Wenn er dich nur passiv kennen und beobachten w=FCrde, dann h=E4tte ich eigentlich erwartet, dass sein Blick sehr aufmehrsam und interessiert auf mich gerichtet bleibt. Statt dessen hat er aber sofort seitlich weggesehen und hatte einen Gesichtsausdruck als ob ihm dein Name peinlich w=E4re und er eigentlich nichts davon h=F6ren will. Viele Leute sind fast so einfach auszulesen wie Chipkarten. A

1 thought on “Ray Adams’ spy network at Cambridge University: NewsCorp/NDS has its sources

  1. Pingback: Low-Tech ‘OPSEC’: Germany And Russia Buying Typewriters To Avoid NSA Spying » Gossips

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