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


  • Atif

    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

    • Muhammad Ashraf

      Dear Bro,
      Cia has best team with in depth knowledge of most of the spoken language of the world

    • guest

      Telenor and mobilikin waley khud hi data paish kar detay hon gay NSA walon ko.

      • BadarUI

        Mobilink Russian company hai is liye yeah khud pesh nhi kr sakti.

        • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

          Beta russian company koi nahi hoti, kuch or hota hai.
          Mobilink Orascom group ki hai or ye Egyptian group hai

          • BadarUI

            Dr Sahab Ap ki General knowledge thori outdated hai. EGYPTIAN Company thi laiken ab yeah Russian company BEETEL ki malkiyat hai. Aur egypt se pehle yeah Motorola USA ki malkiyat thi.

            • Asad

              Vimpelcom is the parent company of Mobilink, Beetel is another brand of Vimplecom; just like Mobilink. Thanks.

              • BadarUI

                Yes you are right.

          • Jawad

            Wah wah dr saab, kabhi ache baat bhi kr lia karen.

            • BadarUI

              In sahab se achi baton ki tawaqo zara kam hi rakhni chahiye

        • Ehtesham

          Mobilink is half russian half telenor. ;)

          • BadarUI

            Yes but just few percent shares of telenor.

            • aamir7

              It’s not just few. More than one third shares.

              • BadarUI

                Thanks for upgrading my memory.

    • lol

    • Tausif | توصیف

      Lol. Even 100 years ago Britain’s decoded pasto. So forget that idea.

    • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

      ye apnay Dr. Afridi, Osama bin Laden case walay pashto he boltay thay na??

    • Syed Shariq Ehsan

      Codes are not written in human language i.e. English. They are written in programming languages i.e C#, Python etc.
      They depends on some protocols, to prevent NSA from stealing data, Engineers have to make a programming language with unique protocols.

    • chachachawal

      Mazzak na kar sangyaa,,.. Shakeel Khan afridi, Mala Yousaf Zai Khan, Imran khan niazi…!!

    • Videovertex

      Code everything in Chaudhry Shujaat’s language. NSA officials will comit suicide.

  • Saad R.

    Telenor & Mobilink should change their tagline to “Catch us if you can”

  • Edward Mayya

    One day NSA will access our toilet also :P

    • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

      I think they already had access to Edward Maya’s toilet ;)

      • aazmoda

        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?

  • Abbas Zaidi

    what about zong, ufone and warid they didnt say anything abt these

  • Haseeb

    its time to leave earth with a satellite phone

  • Muhammed Ovais Alam

    Welcome to INTERNET!

  • Shahid Saleem

    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”

  • Ahmed Habib

    How was that secret report if it was availabe to bloggers??

    • guest

      Khota side pe kar k tum ne comment to kar liya thora research ki hota to pata hota edward snowden tumhari phupi ka munda kya karta tha

      • UMAIR

        hahahahahahahahaha

  • SWA

    NSA GCHW …… kamaz kam Pak k lian to etne koshesh karnay k bajian direct gov say rabta kian karay.

  • Guest

    Sahee krta tha hitler, in sab salooon ko line me khara ker k goli mar dene chaya………

    • Shahid Saleem

      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?

      • Fake Persona

        i think it’s not about power, it is about guts!!!
        Ek to chori, ooper say seena zori…

        • Shahid Saleem

          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…

          • Fake Persona

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

  • Fakhre Alam

    LOL good way to wash away their past accusations

  • Well Wisher of Pakistan

    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.

    • Shahid Saleem

      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???

    • Najam

      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.

    • Wella

      non-Muslim wali bit smajh nahi ae… rest of the comment was fine.

      Mobilink CEO is actually a jew…

  • Shahid Saleem

    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.

    • aazmoda

      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.

  • Guest

    Goli maar do in sab ko

  • As far as your living a simple life, it should not matter to you.

  • aazmoda

    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?

  • Dr. Aamir Liaquat Hussain

    suntay rahen, yahan mashook or mashooka ki calls hoti hain ziada..sun lain wo bhi

    • Fake Persona

      sexting…

      • Ali Mohsin

        seriously… do Pakistani teenagers do sexting?.. u mean dirty pics exchange waghera?

        • Fake Persona

          I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic or not…
          Are you aware of the term selective truth?
          http://dai.ly/x1s41s0

  • Omar Shakir

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

  • nab

    bhai kar lo intercept sari calls hamari…. hamara pakistaniyo ka apna hai kya jis ki fikar karain :-)

  • Videovertex

    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?

  • Ali Mohsin

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

    • Shahid Saleem

      oh, i suppose the nsa listening to all our calls is a “good thing” according to you?

      • Ali Mohsin

        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?

        • Shahid Saleem

          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.

          • Ali Mohsin

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

            • Shahid Saleem

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

              • Ali Mohsin

                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.

                • Shahid Saleem

                  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?

            • Shahid Saleem

              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.

              • Ali Mohsin

                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.

                • Shahid Saleem

                  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.

                • Shahid Saleem

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

  • Ali Mohsin

    that;s a local version of Dont tell my mother series,,,

  • ali ani

    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.