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