The Washington Post released a report earlier in the year involving the CIA, the BND and a Swiss crypto company – it was described as the Intelligence Coup of the Century.
The report reveals that US and German intelligence owned a Swiss company that once sold secure encryption products that were thought to be amongst the most secure in the world. It was discovered that these encryption products enabled both the CIA and the BND to spy on enemies as well as allies across the world.
Crypto AG is the company in question, both Germany’s ZDF and The Washington Post have claimed that a deal was struck between Crypto AG and the CIA in the 50s, after being founded during the Second World War. They go on to say that two decades later, the company was handed fully over to US and German intelligence, ahead of being dissolved more than four decades later in 2018.
Reportedly, the operation was codenamed ‘Thesaurus’ but was later renamed in the 80s to ‘Rubicon’. The Washington Post’s Article goes onto say that ‘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,’. It’s been suggested that these five or six foreign countries could be members of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing partnership.
It’s been claimed that the Americans ensured that the encryption built into Crypto AG’s products was made to be weak enough that it could be cracked relatively easy, rather than having backdoors created. The US and Germany made sure that respected academics were sent as representatives to reassure governments about the quality of the encryption products if they began to suspect that something wasn’t quite right.
This report has resulted in concerns surrounding platforms such as Tor, that was formed from a project within the US Defence Department and reminded people about the potential interference from China with equipment produced by Huawei.