British Spy Agency Had Secret Access to Every Internet User in Pakistan

New revelations made by Edward Snowden  suggest that GCHQ, British Spy Agency, had manipulated CISCO routers installed at central internet gateway of Pakistan (also known as Pakistan Internet Exchange or PIE) to gain access to almost any internet user and its data in Pakistan.

According to details published by Intercept, GCHQ had gained questionable warrants from government to reverse engineer various technology tools and equipment to gain access to users’ data across continents. This reverse engineering technique, which is otherwise liable to legal action as it is termed as an hacking attempt, was particularly warranted for the purpose of spying into users’ data.

This information is based on 22 new documents made public by Edward Snowden that were never released before.

GCHQ targeted various encryption and security software, anti-viruses, online forum software, hosting software, email server software, routers and other hardware that were reversed engineered to hack into network systems that granted the agency unprecedented access to masses.

Infected software include Exlade’s CrypticDisk, Acer’s eDataSecurity, vBulletin, Invision Power Board, cPanel, PostfixAdmin, Kaspersky anti-viruses, CISCO routers and other critical hardware.

Report claims that GCHQ’s reverse engineering of Cisco routers had enabled the agency not only to access almost any user of the internet inside the entire Pakistan but also to re-route selective traffic across international links toward GCHQ’s passive collection systems.

CISCO has said that it doesn’t work with any government, including the U.K. Government.

GCHQ’s Secret document published by Edward Snoden mentions:

GCHQ’s CNE operations against in-country communications switches (routers) have also benefited from SRE.

Capability against Cisco routers developed by this means has allowed a CNE presence on the Pakistan Internet Exchange which affords access to almost any user of the internet inside Pakistan.

Our presence on routers likewise allows us to re-route selected traffic across nternational links towards GCHQ’s passive collection systems.

If put in simpler words, GCHQ had/has access to each and every page that we visit, every attachment we upload, email that we send or literally anything that we do on internet. This kind of mass-interception might not seem a critical thing for a commoner but country’s top brass, or those whose data is sensitive is also prone to foreign agencies should raise serious concerns.

This is first of its kind revelation where such mass-scale intrusion into Pakistani internet users and their privacy has surfaced. We have come across various reports in the past where Pakistani phone users were targeted, however, such mass-scale internet interception has come to light only for the first time.

GCHQ had access to each and every page that we visit, every attachment we upload, email that we send or literally anything that we do on internet

Digital Rights Foundation, a non-profit organization that advocates privacy and rights of internet users, has said that this hacking operation, at a scale never previously seen before from the British intelligence agency, seriously undermines the right to privacy of all users of the internet in Pakistan.

“By targeting a key point in Pakistan’s communications infrastructure, GCHQ have put at risk the security and integrity of a significant portion of Pakistan’s communications infrastructure”, said a statement issued by the foundation.

It is still unclear if Pakistani government or security agencies are/were aware of these attacks by GCHQ, however, Digital Rights Foundation of Pakistan — in a press statement — has emphasised that Pakistan government has an obligation to protect Pakistanis right to privacy and this level of intrusion onto critical national infrastructure undermines that obligation.


There’s no way of remaining safe from GCHQ or NSA when essential and core technology equipment that we import from abroad is infected. However, Government should question these equipment makers or the British government that why such incidents had to happen.

It is of paramount importance that the government does all it can to account for this intrusion and to take meaningful steps to ensure the right to privacy in Pakistan and prevent it from being brazenly interfered with by foreign intelligence agencies, the rights organization stressed.

An ISP, while speaking with ProPakistani, said that there is not much that internet companies or even Pakistani government can do about stopping these hacking attempts. It said that only way of avoiding these intruders is to start manufacturing our own equipment, otherwise there’s no way of remaining safe when essential and core-equipment that we import from abroad is infected.

After these incidents, UK or even EU’s morality is prone to questions. Most prestigious law abiding governments and bodies doing such mass-scale violations expose west’s dual-standards and time has come when world should actually start seeing them as law breakers.

Tech and telecom reporter for over 15 years

  • Pardon me for this but GCHQ can suck on my big black Pakistani Kookarr AKA Murgha :)

    • you can use paypal but with some othery country mentioned in your info.

      • It can be blocked anytime!! Payoneer offers the service, but it’s risky!!

        • We don’t need paypal we privacy, you are selling privacy for paypal? Every internet user need privacy but not every one need paypal

            • SOPA and PIPA are not only responsible, and you are also shouting in public for paypal. There is no privacy on internet Pakistan is not only victim of this. Even peoples of USA,UK,RUSSIA are infected of this (said by Edward Snowden). You have no issue but we have issue we don’t need paypal we need privacy even you can request for poll on for paypal or Privacy majority of people will vote for Privacy.

        • kia pta dukhta ho unko.
          koi obvious reason hogi otherwise unko kia lagay pak main na anay say jub or countries main hai service

  • wow British is becoming better then American intelligence, after all the have James Bond – Shame on US.

      • they didn’t hacked actually they gifted for fooling ;)
        all machines which are gifted from UNICEF and other NGOs has hard drives in it.
        and moqay ba moqa repairing k name pay oun ka vendor data utha lay jata ha ;)

  • yehi hon gay jo meri sari info or wo videos off the camera wali release kerty hain

    • Why not we make our own operating system as China made. Nobody will be able to hack our OS. Yours all mango videos will not get leaked. :D

      • making own equipment is not one day job as people are saying
        currently we have only daal cheeni atta milk and yes mango
        baqi chezen to baad ki bat

  • Pakistan has a huge pool of talents computer specialists. They should be utilized to counter these external threats which could turn out to directly challenge the country’s very own existence.

    • these specialists won’t live here.
      maybe some of them working in this british spy agency

      • Rafay Baloch?? He is in Pakistan. And there are many!!! Our government is not hiring talented persons, you know how men are being hired.

        • o yeah actually we need education health etc etc first.
          making own equipments require to build industry. that’s what I said
          industry require capital, both human and money which we don’t have.
          and plz don’t focus on pak only even countries like germany russia korea were targeted

  • After thorough analysis of all data retrieved from Pakistan, GCHQ has concluded that:
    70% porn
    20% mujray
    10% FB selfie posts

  • Pakistan has got talent, there are world’s top hackers in Pakistan who can break the systems. Modifying the router’s configurations is not a big deal. So if we imported the infected routers, we can hire the hackers to find the vulnerabilities and fix them.

  • Its time to import devices from chinese companies atleast if they spy the data wont be in hands of nato or america or uk who are already against us

    • maybe these devices are made in china or atleast assembled in china.
      US top product iphone assembled in china and most of cisco products are now purely made in china.

  • i know it already from a documentary made on Edward . it’s common even sim data is also listed . Their is no such thing as privacy still it’s for them is difficult to locate the terrorist groupies fundings i hope if they cooperate with pakistani services they might have a chance of winning the war

  • how do you choose what traffic you want to view, if you want all of that traffic then you you retransmit every packet twice? that doesnt sound feasible. and if you decide you only want particular traffic shouldn’t the monitoring have put significant load on the CPU resources of the devices?Abnormal loads should have been observed and reported.

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