February 12, 2020
I think it is best to just believe that anything that seems even slightly suspicious is run by some intelligence agency.
But somehow, everyone always acts all shocked.
But seriously: what are the chances that a company that specializes in encrypted communications isn’t run by the CIA? We know from all the way back during the Edward Snowden leaks that encrypted messages are flagged to be looked at first by the NSA. Because if something is encrypted, the CIA just assumes it’s something that they need to check out.
Probably most of it is just pedophiles and terrorists. But every once in a while, they’re going to find something interesting.
The Swiss government has ordered an inquiry into a global encryption company based in Zug following revelations it was owned and controlled for decades by US and German intelligence.
Encryption weaknesses added to products sold by Crypto AG allowed the CIA and its German counterpart, the BND, to eavesdrop on adversaries and allies alike while earning million of dollars from the sales, according the Washington Post and the German public broadcaster ZDF, based on the agencies’ internal histories of the intelligence operation.
“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concluded. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the US and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”
The mention of five or six countries is probably a reference to the Five Eyes electronic intelligence sharing agreement between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
The operation, codenamed Thesaurus and then renamed Rubicon in 1980s, demonstrated the overwhelming intelligence value of being able to insert flaws into widely sold communications equipment. The CIA’s success over many years is likely to reinforce current US suspicions of equipment made by the Chinese company Huawei.
Why would the CIA’s success in putting backdoors in Western products not reinforce current US suspicions of equipment made by Western companies?
Wouldn’t that be the obvious thing to conclude here?
Neither China or the Soviet Union bought Crypto encryption devices, suspicious of the company’s origins, but it was sold to more than 100 other countries.
Carolina Bohren, a spokeswoman for the Swiss defence ministry, said in an emailed statement: “The events under discussion date back to 1945 and are difficult to reconstruct and interpret in the present day context.”
Bohren said that following media inquiries about the company, the Swiss government appointed a former federal supreme court judge, Niklaus Oberholzer, in January to “investigate and clarify the facts of the matter” and report back to the defence ministry in June.
Meanwhile, Switzerland has suspended foreign sales of Crypto products.
At their height, Operations Thesaurus and Rubicon provided the US with a powerful intelligence edge. When Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin were hosted by the former president Jimmy Carter at Camp David in 1978 to negotiate an Egyptian-Israeli peace accord, the US was able to monitor all Sadat’s communications with Cairo.
Iran was also a Crypto customer, allowing CIA and the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on the revolutionary government in Tehran during the 1979 hostage crisis.US intelligence was also able to eavesdrop on Libyan officials congratulating each other on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco.
According to the CIA’s history, the US passed on intercepted communications about Argentinian military plans to the UK during the Falklands war, exploiting Argentina’s reliance on Crypto encryption equipment.
The CIA and BND agreed the purchase of Crypto in 1970 but, fearing exposure, the BND sold its share of the company to the US in the early 1990s. According to the Washington Post, the CIA continued to exploit the company until 2018, when it sold the company’s assets to two private companies.
One of those companies, CyOne Security, which is run by former top Crypto employees, issued a statement saying it could not comment on Crypto’s history.
So surely, no one is shocked.
I guess all these stupid brown people who trusted this are shocked.
I seriously doubt the Swiss government is actually shocked. It seems more likely that they’re embarrassed about getting caught allowing this sort of thing in their country.