In this day and age where no online conversations or transactions are safe from the lurking shadows and eavesdropping ears, snail mail might be your best bet when sending top secret information. Despite all high-tech encryption, anything that is online can be hacked and stolen, sometimes too easily.
Matt Novak, who is the editor of Gizmodo’s Paleofuture blog, was curious about how the snail mail can be used to send something without the risk of being tampered or spied on, so he went to the pros to learn the business. He found out that the CIA sends their letters secured with a specific type of tamper-proof tape, which acts like a low-tech encryption, and he got this information directly from CIA itself!
But scratching the info out wasn’t easy. Matt filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the CIA, which usually results in the agency sending a physical letter. He got a letter as shown in the picture below, sealed in a brown 3-inch tape, but got no details on what the letter seal was made out of.
Then Matt filed another FOIA request, asking the CIA to reveal the type of the seal. The agency responded by first stating that since it wasn’t a specific “government record” they are not obliged to tell him. But “in an effort to assist,” they told him anyway.
As it turned out, the tape couldn’t be steamed off while having laminated glass fibers. But here’s the best part, the “gummed kraft sealing tape” can actually be bought off-the-shelf, so practically anyone can secure their snail mail the CIA way!
The agency also revealed that it uses three inches wide version of the tape, and buys it in 450-foot rolls. The CIA even sent Matt a photocopy of the catalog of their tape’s order from Miller’s Supplies at Work, Government Sales Division, bearing the product number UFS-44HD007.
So if you are concerned about someone sneaking around your mail, this tape might be your best bet!