Strategisch Verbindingsinlichtingen Centrum
In the Netherlands, Strategisch Verbindingsinlichtingen Centrum (SVIC)
– Strategic Signals Intelligence Centre –
is the national organisation tasked with
traffic- and cryptanalysis (codebreaking) of intercepted
foreign military and diplomatic (radio) traffic.
The organisation was formerly known as
TIVC and until 1982 as
WKC, and can be seen as
the (smaller) equivalent of the American NSA
and the British GCHQ.
has several partnerships
with foreign intelligence agencies
Although SVIC is basically a military (naval) organisation – operating
under the responsibility of the Military Intelligence Service (MIVD) –
it also works for, and provides information to, the Dutch civil intelligence
SVIC is currently located in Den Haag (The Hague, Netherlands).
Since 2014 it has been largely absorbed into the newly established
Joint Sigint Cyber Unit (JSCU).
1914 - 1940
General Staf, Sectie IV
General Staff, Section IV
1949 - 1975
Marine Afdeling IV
Naval Department 4
1975 - 1982
1982 - 1996
Technisch Informatieverwerkings Centrum
Technical Information Processing Centre
1996 - present
Strategisch Verbindingsinlichtingen Centrum
Strategic Signals Intelligence Centre
The history of SVIC dates back to 1914, with the foundation of
Section IV of the Generale Staf (GS) (General Staff) of the Army (GS IV).
This eventually became Department IV of the Naval Intelligence
Service (MARID) — established in 1949 — and became known as MARID IV.
In 1975, MARID IV was spun out as Wiskundig Centrum
(Mathematics Centre) — abbreviated WKC —
and was initially located at Kattenburg, the
Marine Establishment Amsterdam (MEA) in Amsterdam (Netherlands).
In 1982, WKC
was renamed Technisch Informatieverwerkings Centrum
(Technical Information Processing Centre) — abbreviated TIVC.
In 1996, TIVC
was renamed Strategisch Verbindingsinlichtingen Centrum
(Strategic Signals Intelligence Centre) — abbreviated SVIC.
In 2005, SVIC left the historical location Kattenburg in Amsterdam,
and was relocated at the Frederik Kazerne in The Hague (Netherlands) — the headquarters
of the Military Intelligence Service (MIVD).
From its foundation in 1975, WKC/TIVC/SVIC was located at the Naval
Establishment Kattenburg in Amsterdam (Netherlands), where the
information, gathered by a number of (radio) intercept stations, was
analysed and processed. In 2005, SVIC moved from
Amsterdam/Kattenburg to the Frederikkazerne in The Hague, the
headquarters of the Military Intelligence Service (MIVD).
For intercept of satellite traffic (SHF), 1 the most important sources of
information are the satellite groundstations in Zoutkamp (Groningen,
Netherlands), and – since 2006 – an additional one in nearby
Burum (Friesland). For interception of high frequency (HF) 2 radio
traffic, the organisation relies on its monitoring stations in
Eemnes (Utrecht) and Eibergen (Gelderland) and,
since 1963, in the Caribbean – at Curaçao 3 –
with Venezuela and Cuba as main targets .
SHF = Super High Frequency (3-30 GHz)
HF = High Frequency (3-30 MHz)
Closed on 1 July 1990 .
SVIC has several partnerships with foreign sister organisations,
most of which are bilateral and should be considered secret.
According to Gerhard Piper in , WKC/TIVC had a
bilaterial partnership with Germany
since 1967. In April 2020,
Dutch Professor of computer security Dr. Bart Jacobs revealed that
since 1978, TIVC has a secret partnership
with Denmark, Sweden, Germany and France, under the name
This partnership is now widely regarded as the European equivalent of
the UKUSA Fives Eyes alliance,
and is active to this day (2020).
So far, the following partnerships are publicly known:
The most important task of WKC/TIVC/SVIC is traffic-analysis and crypto-analysis,
commonly known as codebreaking. As part of its partnership in the
MAXIMATOR alliance, it was capable of deciphering
the (mostly diplomatic) traffic from nearly 75 countries for more than 50 years .
was a successful electronic
cipher machine, developed in the late
1970s by Philips Usfa
in The Netherlands, for exclusive use by NATO.
The device used a secure Philips-developed hardware-based encryption algorithm
that had been approved by NATO's evaluation authority SECAN.
With NATO's consent, Philips also produced variants for internal
communications of certain countries, such as the Dutch Police and the
Dutch Ministry of Foreign affairs. Even Austria — not a NATO member —
was allowed to use Aroflex for its secure internal communications.
But there were also versions of Aroflex that were rigged in such a
way, that they became friendly. In other words: that their traffic
was readable (breakable) by certain intelligence agencies. This machine
was known as the T-1000/CA
and was officially sold by
as the civil version.
was internally known by its nickname 'Beroflex', and
used a hardware-based crypto-logic (at the time known as a crypto-heart),
implemented in custom chips,
that were developed with help from TIVC.
Philips had also developed its own rigged algorithm, but choose to
implement the TIVC one, as it involved the least modification of the
existing Aroflex design .
But even with the rigged crypto-logic in place, breaking the cipher
was not trivial. It involved solving a set of binary equasions
an exponentially large number of times, which was beyond the capability
of a general purpose computer at the time. TIVC subsequently teamed up
with Philips Research (NatLab) to develop a dedicated chip to assist
in solving the binary linear equasions.
For the development of the chip, TIVC had attracted two young engineers,
who worked on it from 1975 to 1977. Eventually, a total of 36 of these
chips were used at the heart of a so-called special purpose device
that was able to solve the cipher in approx. 40 minutes .
The SPD was subsequently supplied to the the US (NSA)
and to the MAXIMATOR member states.
➤ More about Aroflex
Until the mid-1980s, Turkey had been using a
One-Time Tape cipher machine
from the French manufacturer Sagem.
Although such a machine is theoretically
unbreakable — it is based on the
One-Time Pad (OTP) — the Turks made the
mistake of using the same key tape multiple times (and even looping it),
as a result of which everone could break it, including the
USSR and TIVC.
Around 1983, after Aroflex had been rolled out in most NATO
countries, including Turkey, the Turkisch Government wanted to buy
additional machines for the encryption of its diplomatic traffic.
But NATO refused: Aroflex was a NATO-only device and was not
allowed for civil use.
The Turkish Goverment then wanted to obtain cipher machines from
Swiss manufacturer Crypto AG
(not knowning that the company was
owned by BND
but the partners (BND
and CIA) could not
decide about whether NATO-partner
Turkey should get secure or rigged machines. 1
The CIA wanted to supply rigged
Crypto AG equipment to Turkey,
but BND refused as Turkey was a NATO partner.
CIA then asked
Siemens to make a more secure version of their
but Siemens (logically) declined, as they had no control
over the crypto-logic of a Philips machine.
CIA then turned to the
Dutch COMSEC authority NBV, to approach
Philips with the request to develop a rigged Aroflex variant
for Turkey. Philips complied and made a
Beroflex cryptologic that had the signature of a genuine Aroflex.
Turkey accepted the design, and the machines were rolled out from
1988 onwards. The new crypto-logic defeated the regular codebreaking
method by means of the Special Purpose Device, and the CIA insisted that
the approprate solution of the cipher was kept from Germany.
For this reason it was also kept from partner TIVC .
Although TIVC was initially unable to break the Turkish diplomatic
traffic encrypted with the special
Turkish Aroflex, they later learned
the details of the encryption algorith and were able solve it entirely in
software. By the late 1980s, the available computing power had increased
dramatically, so that a special purpose device was no longer needed
to solve the cipher .
WKC/TIVC was one of the first organisations in the Netherlands to use
computers for solving cryptographic problems (codebreaking), and
had access to a ZEBRA computer as early as 1958 .
ZEBRA – short for Zeer Eenvoudige Binaire Reken Automaat (Very Simple
Binary Automatic Calculator) – was the first computer to be
developed in the Netherlands after the ARRA .
In the mid-1960s, the range of computers was extended with the IBM TEMPUS
and computers from Bell, DEC, Siemens and Racal .
- Wikipedia, Militaire Inlichtingendienst (Nederland)
Retrieved April 2020.
- Wikipedia, Strategisch Verbindingsinlichtingen Centrum
Retrieved April 2020.
- Nationaal Veiligheidsarchief / inlichtingentingendiensten.nl
Buro Jansen & Janssen. Retrieved April 2020.
- Paul Huz, Afluisterpraktijken
Homow-Universaliz, 13 June 2007.
- Prof. Dr. Bart Jacobs,
Maximator: European signal intelligence cooperation, from a Dutch perspective
Intelligence and National Security, Taylor & Francis Online, 7 April 2020.
- Huub Jaspers, De afluistervrienden van Nederland
VPRO Radio, Argos, 8 April 2020.
- Jaime Karremann, Waarom de Russen het Marineterrein in Amsterdam in de gaten hielden
11 January 2018.
- Gerhard Piper, Abhörstaat Deutschland (Telepolis)...
ISBN 978-3-95788-028-4 (epub). February 2015. Page 152.
- Bob de Graaff en Cees Wiebes, Villa Maarheze
ISBN 978-901208-219-8. January 1999.
- Paul Reuvers and Marc Simons, Operation RUBICON
Crypto Museum, 19 March 2020.
- Anonymous source, about the Aroflex Special Purpose Device
Interview, March 2020.
- Wikipedia, ZEBRA (computer)
Retrieved April 2020.
- Matthew M. Aid and Cees Wiebes,
Secrets of Signals Intelligence During the Cold War and Beyond
ISBN 0-7146-8182-2. 2001. Page 255.
- M.W. Jensen, G. Platje, De MARID
ISBN 978-9-010208-375-1, 1997. Page 250.
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© Crypto Museum. Created: Tuesday 12 May 2020. Last changed: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 - 09:16 CET.