[cryptography] NSA Utah Data Center Cabling, Emanations and Bizarre Planning

John Young jya at pipeline.com
Sun Jul 28 11:44:15 EDT 2013


Not much publicly available on the cabling and emanations
protection of the NSA Utah Data Center. Surely highly advanced
measures are being applied.

Google Earth shows a couple of stages of construction, Bing
Maps a couple more. AP has published a dozen or so hi-rez photos
of construction.

A lot of earthwork was done to create a flat site on a mountain side
(preceded by a small air field).

No indication of underground construction except pits and trenches
under the buildngs. With none on the surface there must be trenches
for power and signal cable.

No antenna have appeared on the site for transceiving data
like those of other of its data centers, so presumably it is done
by UG fiber optic (or antenna are hidden or remote).

Photos of construction progress of the two data buildings show
windowless envelopes made of panels and flat roofs without
various rooftop ductwork, grilles, piping and the like which appear
on roofs of other NSA and TLA facilities which might emanate
signal although not likely. (Some are littered with the stuff which
might be decoy.)

Steel structural framing is shown at Utah despite its known transmittal
of inadvertent signal, compared to say, reinforced concrete, metalized
fabric or synthetics. although are ample countermeasures available.

The pairing of structures at Utah, two of each type, data center,
generator, AC, fuel tanks, etc., show redundancy also not seen
elsewhere.

Not much to see of protection against missiles and aerial attack
but that is the same at other NSA facilities. Wonder what supports
that confidence.

The odd bent shape of the site plan, with buildings not parallel to
one another is intriguing. Could be aesthetic but may have another
role, say to disperse richochet of inadvertent emanations.

Quite a few recent government buildings avoid the traditional
rectilinear site planning of buildings long considered to be most
cost effective and authoritarian. Some like NGA HQ, NSA Utah
and several at Ft. Meade look almost byzantine in layout, if not
a shrewd design to limit echo, amplification, richochet, or best,
to befuddle satellite peepers.




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