For some reason I've known that a smartphone was not a good idea from the start - I don't have one
Docs: NSA, GCHQ
Hacked Largest SIM Maker
to Monitor Your Cellphone
and British intelligence hacked into the computer network of one of
the world’s biggest manufacturers of SIM cards, stealing encryption
keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications
information is revealed in a 2010 document from British intelligence
agency Government Communications Headquarters. The top-secret report
is the latest to be leaked by National Security Agency whistleblower
document was made public on journalist Glenn Greenwald’s website,
the Intercept. Greenwald has been publishing such documents since
Snowden first leaked them in June 2013.
joint unit of operatives from the NSA and the GCHQ committed the
breach, the Intercept reported. The hack gave the agencies the
ability to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular
communications, including both voice and data.
agencies’ target was Gemalto, a multinational firm incorporated in
the Netherlands that makes the chips used in mobile phones and
next-generation credit cards, the Intercept reported. Among its
clients are AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Sprint and some 450 wireless
network providers around the world.
operates in 85 countries, including the US, and has more than 40
manufacturing facilities. The company produces approximately 2
billion SIM cards per year.
to documents published on The Intercept, GCHQ – with support from
the NSA – covertly mined the private communications of engineers
and other Gemalto employees in multiple countries.
disturbed, quite concerned that this has happened,” Paul Beverly, a
Gemalto executive vice president, told the Intercept. The most
important thing for me is to understand exactly how this was done, so
we can take every measure to ensure that it doesn’t happen again,
and also to make sure that there’s no impact on the telecom
operators that we have served in a very trusted manner for many
years. What I want to understand is what sort of ramifications it
has, or could have, on any of our customers."
privacy advocates and security experts say that stealing encryption
keys from major wireless network providers is equivalent to obtaining
the master ring that holds the keys to every apartment in a building.
you have the keys, decrypting traffic is trivial,” Christopher
Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties
Union, told the Intercept. “The news of this key theft will send a
shock wave through the security community.”
being alerted to the hacks, Gemalto’s internal security team began
to investigate, but were unable to find no evidence of the breach.
the Gemalto VP, said neither the NSA nor the GCHQ requested access to
Gemalto-manufactured encryption keys.
team of NSA and GCHQ hackers that committed the breach, the Mobile
Handset Exploitation Team, was formed in April 2010 and its existence
was unknown until now, the Intercept reported.
of its main missions was to penetrate computer networks of
corporations that manufacture SIM cards, as well as those of wireless
intelligence agencies now have the ability to intercept and decrypt
communications without alerting the wireless network provider, the
foreign government or the individual user that they have been
targeted, the Intercept reported.
access to a database of keys is pretty much game over for cellular
encryption,” Matthew Green, a cryptography specialist at the Johns
Hopkins Information Security Institute, told the Intercept.
is entering the post-Snowden world with style. Its own
anti-surveillance smartphone prototype, equipped with the latest in
cutting-edge cybersecurity and intended for corporate users, is
currently being tested.