It’s a brave new world for snoops and hackers, given their ability to access electronic files where most government secrets are held. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency are only the latest evidence of an insecure system of data storage, even by the most sophisticated and well-funded spy operation.

But the Kremlin has turned to the past in an effort to thwart the theft of secret information, and will spend about $20,000 to buy electric typewriters from Germany. It’s almost surprising that they are still available, given the rapid march of technology.

Russia’s Federal Guard Service (FSO), which is in charge of safeguarding secret data, decided that paper records are more easy to secure. Our information comes, appropriately enough, from a report in The Telegraph, a London newspaper.

And there is an added security benefit to using typewriters.

Unlike computer printers, each typewriter has a distinctively individual pattern that can be traced, assuming that purloined documents are recovered.

Now if only the Russian government can find enough typewriter repairmen from the ranks of retirees to keep the new machines operational.

And as part of its security protocol the FSO shouldn’t forget to secure the typewriter ribbons after they have been used.

As any number of outdated espionage novels have revealed, those typed-on ribbons can contain secrets of their own.