Switzerland investigating CIA controlled global encryption company

(FILE) - A worker at the CIA sweeping the foyer clean at the CIA Headquarters, Langley, Virginia, USA. EPA-EFE/DENNIS BRACK / POOL

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The Swiss government has ordered an inquiry into a global encryption company based in Zug following revelations it was owned and controlled for decades by US and German intelligence.

Encryption weaknesses added to products sold by Crypto AG allowed the CIA and its German counterpart, the BND, to eavesdrop on adversaries and allies alike while earning millions of dollars from the sales, according the Washington Post and the German public broadcaster ZDF, based on the agencies’ internal histories of the intelligence operation.

“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concluded. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the US 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 mention of five or six countries is probably a reference to the Five Eyes electronic intelligence sharing agreement between the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The operation, codenamed Thesaurus and then renamed Rubicon in 1980s, demonstrated the overwhelming intelligence value of being able to insert flaws into widely sold communications equipment.

The main adversaries of the U.S. in the Cold War, the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers but other clients included Iran, India and Pakistan, military juntas in Latin America and the Vatican, the two outlets reported.

Read more via The Guardian/The New York Times/The Washington Post

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