Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Threat Intelligence

2/11/2020
10:30 AM
50%
50%

CIA's Secret Ownership of Crypto AG Enabled Extensive Espionage

Crypto AG made millions selling encryption devices to more than 120 countries, which unknowingly transmitted intel back to the CIA.

Crypto AG, a Switzerland-based communications encryption firm, was secretly owned by the CIA in a classified partnership with West German intelligence. For years, it sold rigged devices to foreign governments with the intent of spying on messages its users believed to be encrypted.

In an account published by the Washington Post and German public broadcaster ZDF, reporters dive into the details of a decades-long arrangement through which the United States and allies made millions selling encryption equipment to more than 120 countries into the 21st century. Crypto clients included Iran, India, Pakistan, Iraq, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Syria, even the Vatican.

Governments relying on Crypto devices to protect their communications did not know they were designed so intelligence officials could easily break the codes used to send messages. The operation, first known as "Thesaurus" and later "Rubicon," intercepted correspondence that informed them of global military operations, hostage crises, assassinations, and bombings.

"It was the intelligence coup of the century," as stated in a CIA report, one of the documents obtained by the Post and ZDF as part of their investigation. "Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. 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 Swiss government has officially opened an investigation into Crypto, according to SwissInfo, the International Service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation. The general export license for Crypto devices has been suspended "until open questions have been clarified."

Read the full report here.

Check out The Edge, Dark Reading's new section for features, threat data, and in-depth perspectives. Today's top story: "What Is a Privileged Access Workstation (PAW)?."

Dark Reading's Quick Hits delivers a brief synopsis and summary of the significance of breaking news events. For more information from the original source of the news item, please follow the link provided in this article. View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Stop Defending Everything
Kevin Kurzawa, Senior Information Security Auditor,  2/12/2020
Small Business Security: 5 Tips on How and Where to Start
Mike Puglia, Chief Strategy Officer at Kaseya,  2/13/2020
Architectural Analysis IDs 78 Specific Risks in Machine-Learning Systems
Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  2/13/2020
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
6 Emerging Cyber Threats That Enterprises Face in 2020
This Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at six emerging cyber threats that enterprises could face in 2020. Download your copy today!
Flash Poll
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
How Enterprises Are Developing and Maintaining Secure Applications
The concept of application security is well known, but application security testing and remediation processes remain unbalanced. Most organizations are confident in their approach to AppSec, although others seem to have no approach at all. Read this report to find out more.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2014-2228
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
The XStream extension in HP Fortify SCA before 2.2 RC3 allows remote attackers to execute arbitrary code via unsafe deserialization of XML messages.
CVE-2014-2727
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
The STARTTLS implementation in MailMarshal before 7.2 allows plaintext command injection.
CVE-2015-2104
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
** REJECT ** DO NOT USE THIS CANDIDATE NUMBER. ConsultIDs: none. Reason: This candidate was withdrawn by its CNA. Further investigation showed that it was not a security issue. Notes: none.
CVE-2014-3622
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
Use-after-free vulnerability in the add_post_var function in the Posthandler component in PHP 5.6.x before 5.6.1 might allow remote attackers to execute arbitrary code by leveraging a third-party filter extension that accesses a certain ksep value.
CVE-2016-10000
PUBLISHED: 2020-02-19
Insufficient type checks were employed prior to casting input data in SimpleXMLElement_exportNode and simplexml_import_dom. This issue affects HHVM versions prior to 3.9.5, all versions between 3.10.0 and 3.12.3 (inclusive), and all versions between 3.13.0 and 3.14.1 (inclusive).