NSA and GCHQ Tried but Failed to Intercept Mobilink and Telenor Calls

American National Security Agency and British Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ had tried to intercept cellular communication of Pakistani cellular operators (Mobilink and Telenor Pakistan) but were unable to monitor the voice and data traffic of its subscribers.

This was revealed by a top-secret document shared by National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden.

According to the secret document, both American and British spy agencies had infected Gemalto’s computers (a Netherlands based firm that manufactures SIM cards) with malware that gave the agencies a secret access to encryption keys that are embedded on SIM cards that Gemalto ships to over 450 networks in the world.

GSM, 3G and LTE networks use encryption keys for securing the communication between handsets and the operators through encryption keys (known as Ki), which is stored on SIM cards by SIM card manufacturers.

Gemalto has said that they aren’t aware of any such hack and NSA and GCHQ’s access to its systems isn’t in company’s knowledge.

Infecting Gemalto’s system and having access to such encryption keys gave NSA and GCHQ free access to all voice and data communication of several hundred networks in the world.

But, as per NSA reports in 2010, its automated key harvesting system failed to produce results against Pakistani networks, Mobilink and Telenor, despite the fact that GCHQ had a store of Kis for both the operators.

According to report, NSA and GCHQ had denoted Pakistan as a priority target.

Agency report said that both the networks were probably using more secure methods to transfer Kis.

It won’t be out of place to mention that this report about NSA’s inability of access Telenor and Mobilink data is five years old. Things might have changed since then and NSA might have gained access to both the operators late on.

Snowden’s this revelation is continuation of an earlier report which suggested that NSA had monitoring access to all five Pakistani operators.

Interestingly, just earlier this week it was reported that NSA infect hard-disks (from various vendors including Seagate, Western Digital, Toshiba and others) in almost every country of the world including Pakistan.

In such situations, its hard to determine if there is anything left in our lives that is not in access of NSA.

It is yet to be seen if corporations are concerned enough about the privacy of their customers and if they can bring NSA and GCHQ to the courts of law.

Just in case if you don’t know, NSA, CIA or any other intelligence organization conveniently explain their lawmakers that their surveillance activities are not aimed at American citizens and are designed and exercised for foreign (non-American) nationals only.

And American citizens and their lawmakers comfortably accept this argument as if non-Americans are animals and not humans.

It is such an irony that despite all this, USA is still respected as a true democracy and torch-bearer for free speech, free society and peace maker of the world.

Via The Intercept

Tech reporter with over 10 years of experience, founder of ProPakistani.PK


  • Why not design codes by different computer technology and cannot be detected by other technologies.
    And code everything in Pashto language so, Americans cannot intercept it,. :p :D

      • yes. thats where they caught you bent over – while Edward Mayya was doing his thing. Anyways, have your bruises healed now? How much do you charge btw?

  • And American citizens and their lawmakers comfortably accept this argument as if non-Americans are animals and not humans.

    You say that as if it is any different from Pakistani citizens and lawmakers. We abuse and mistreat others all the time also. And everyone knows how much comfortable we are with the idea of ISI and others spying on Pakistanis: we accept it without question “for security reasons”

    • Here we go. Another person thinking everything that happens is due to Jews.

      Fool, if our agencies had the same power as NSA, do you ***HONESTLY*** believe they would not do the same kind of attacks against such companies?

        • strange, i posted my reply to you and then you went and tried to delete your comment. if it’s about guts, you have demonstrated how much you have…

          • when & where? to what post you were replying and where is the reply? are you even replying to the correct person???

  • In presence of a Jewish CEO at Mobilink, anything is possible. I wonder how come our security agencies have given permission to let Mobilink bring someone in who could be a potential threat to national security.

    Mobilink signed up with Viber some time ago and was busy in getting hold of new data customers through offering internet bundles. Not to forget, VIBER is an Israel based mobile company which has access to all Text and Voice communication that take place on its app in PAKISTAN. By government laws, no one can engage in direct business with any Israeli firm. Mobilink team was so smart that it didn’t let anyone know about its NDA (non disclosure agreement) signed with Viber, committed a heinous crime and went uncaught.

    Second, Telenor is also busy in supporting hidden agendas of the West through its Internet For All program. The idea is simple, hook everyone up to mobile internet and slowly and gradually get to know about their usage behavior, likes and dislikes. Their deal with OPERA is first step towards achieving the goal.

    Recently, Telenor Pakistan favored its Business Intelligence employees by offering alluring increments upto 45% without letting other departments know. It was done secretly and oath was taken from data miners of the company who actually provide all customer insights.

    Anything can happen in Pakistan in presence of corrupt government and weak institutes.

    • If being a non-Muslim is that terrible of a concept for you to understand, well, I guess that explains why you are silent when Chrisitians, Parsis, Hindus, etc. are killed every day in Pakistan.

      You are the one who is anti-Pakistani.

      And for your kind information, A Japanese company bought Viber last year. Now what? Will you cry abut Japan too???

    • My thoughts exactly the same. What if this report is fake to make people believe that their calls data is safe, whereas in reality these company offer data to NSA and CIA.

  • OH

    MY

    GOD

    I read the article

    This is what it says

    In its key harvesting “trial” operations in the first quarter of 2010, GCHQ successfully intercepted keys used by wireless network providers in Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Serbia, Iceland and Tajikistan. But, the agency noted, its automated key harvesting system failed to produce results against Pakistani networks, denoted as “priority targets” in the document, despite the fact that GCHQ had a store of Kis from two providers in the country, Mobilink and Telenor. “[I]t is possible that these networks now use more secure methods to transfer Kis,” the document concluded.

    ????????

    They failed to get secure keys for Mobilink and Telenor using their automated system

    BUT
    BUT
    BUT

    GCHQ ALREADY HAS KI VALUES FOR MOBILINK AND TELENOR

    That is the EXACT OPPOSITE of the headline of your article!!!!

    How they aquired Mobilink/Telenor keys is not described but it is not by an automated system.

    • Dont worry, no one will bother to read your comment.
      Why would anyone attempt to get keys/data, when they had already bought it from enthusiastic sellers? Reminds me of a quote from Aimal Kansi’s court case. It perhaps described most of us.

  • You are aware of the fact that the records of the same rock solid companies are out in the open. I am sure you can judge what am i talking about. Why should NSA etc target individual companies when they have better and easier access?

  • By the way where in actual report it mentions that Mobilink and Telenor remained ‘un-infected’. Seems this part was funded by these companies.

  • Yar please someone tell me whats the problem if they have access to our calls and texts? The things we say in our calls and texts are:
    janu kia ho rha hai?
    Oe kahan hai?
    Atay hue dahi le ana.
    So, America in ko access kr k kia kr le ga? Tension q lete ho?

  • this blog is highly Anti-american… which really marrs the credibility of its other news articles and opinion pieces..

      • Being a US Citizen,,, my loyalties are with US and its NSA.. :p

        But, Shahid sb, do u really think NSA wants to know who you sext with at night time?

        • Yes, in order to blackmail me in the future.

          Or did you forget that is one of the ways ALL intelligence agencies work? (Including Pakistani ones).

          The thing to keep in mind is that almost everyone is guilty of SOMETHING. The Russian NKVD was very good at using that to their advantage and killing or sending hundreds of thousands (!!!yes that big number) of people to either prisons or to death in the ’30s Stalinist Purges.

          It’s the same kind of technique used by Shin Bet in Israel to make traitors (informants) of innocent Palestinians.

          • I might agree with your comment but have serious objections on the adjective used in this term written by you.. i.e. “Innocent Palestinians”.

            • Why? You think I am making it up? Google around and read for actual stories on how Shin Bet forced people to become informants.

              • no… i can believe that…
                That is normal for every government to do..
                what im objecting to is your use of the word “innocent” for the evil-mongering Palestinians.
                I agree, there might be ‘some’ innocent kids, ladies and males in Palestine, but most of them are sinister-minded evil-mongers, wishing death to each and every Jew and Israeli.
                No one except Muslims hurls murder threats to others in this world. Israel is right in whatever it does because all her efforts are to protect herself and her people from these evil mongering Muslims of the world.

                • Sorry, man. It’s true.

                  1. Suppose someone are sick
                  They need an operation
                  They cannot get it in Gaza or West Bank? And they have to go to Israel?
                  ISARELI WILL ATTEMPT TO RECRUIT THEM. they refuse, they die or get sicker.
                  Are they innocent or not in this case?

                  2. Suppose you own a house in West Bank.
                  You want to build another room for your son who is getting married
                  You go to the occupation forces office to get permit
                  THEY WILL AGAIN TRY TO RECRUIT You. If you refuse, no permit, no room.

                  Happens again and again and again. This is so far public it is even recorded in Israeli court sessions.

                  When Israeli intelligence operatives are going public and writing statements to press saying they are doing the wrong thing by pressurising poor sick Palestinians, then who knows better than them that they are being ordered to do the wrong thing? You?

            • examples. google for this sentence:

              Last week, 43 veterans of the so-called Unit 8200, an elite military intelligence unit, said the organisation listened in on Palestinians, collecting information that can be used to entrap or blackmail them.

              or

              “Whether said individual is of a certain sexual orientation, cheating on his wife, or in need of treatment in Israel or the West Bank – he is a target for blackmail.”

              or

              But they hadn’t signed up to find out which Palestinian leaders were gay or cheating on their wives or whose family members had terminal illnesses–all of which could be exploited to sow dissension in Palestine or provide an opening for recruiting spies.

              • The current trend is to have your lives as open books for others.

                Why would you keep any secrets which would become your potential weaknesses and could be used to extort other information out of you..

                Why would you even think of getting in contact with or colluding with terrorists and therefore invite trouble?

                If your live your life like an open book and don’t have any relations with terror groups or terror mongering people, i don’t think there is any way anyone could blackmail you into doing something or revealing certain information.

                • Sigh. You still fail to understand

                  THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT DOING ANYTHING WRONG
                  THESE PEOPLE ARE NOT IN CONTACT WITH TERRORISTS
                  THESE PEOPLE ARE JUST ORDINARY PEOPLE

                  Who are refused to get medical treatment or building permits or water for their farms if they do not become informers AND THEN spy on others for intelligence agencies.

                  That is what I mean by “innocent”. Intelligence agencies look at their texts (which you lovely think all are 100% sexts or some weird interpretation) and their internet traffic and their phone calls and their postal mail and their travel habits ALL FOR THE SOLE PURPOSE OF LATER USING THAT INFORMATION TO TURN INNOCENT PEOPLE INTO TRAITORS.

                • And believe me, you do not live your own life with an open book so why do you ask anyone else to? Hyporcrite.

  • the KI and KIS , IMSI , MSISDN are used to make clone of a sim card , the hardest part is to find the KI becase its 128-bit encryption , thats y they hacked and may be got the KI encryption private keys , rather brute forcing and finding wchic can take days. but after geting all you can make clone of a sim card on a blank sim card. which will not be interception because out of the 2 same sim cards only 1 can receive the call simultaneously on random bases , which ever connects itself first for the call ,
    the NSA and CIA are using DEFCON for interception international calls and few other systems , including satellilte phones. except with more advance end to end encryption.

  • Ltd feature videos

    Watch more at LTD

    close
    >