Hack Investigation Points to NSA, GCHQ

On Wednesday, SIM card maker Gemalto claims that it has discovered a hack of its networks, likely by US and UK cyber-spy agencies.

Last week, reports emerged claiming that Gemalto, the world's largest security chip provider, has been hacked by American and British spies. The Intercept, citing top-secret documents provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, reported that the hackers took encryption keys which are used to protect cellphone communications privacy across the globe. According to the report, the hackers were part of a joint cyber-spy unit consisting of NSA and GCHQ operatives. With this breach, the agencies had the potential to monitor cellular communication - voice and data - of some 450 wireless network providers across 85 countries.

Following the report, Gemalto opened an investigation into the matter. "If we look back at the period covered by the documents from the NSA and GCHQ, we can confirm that we experienced many attacks. In particular, in 2010 and 2011, we detected two particularly sophisticated intrusions which could be related to the operation," said the SIM maker. "At the time we were unable to identify the perpetrators but we now think that they could be related to the NSA and GCHQ operation. These intrusions only affected the outer parts of our networks - our office networks - which are in contact with the outside world." Gemalto claims that no other parts of its network were compromised and denies that the hack resulted in the large-scale theft of its encryption keys. Not all security experts are convinced that Gemalto was not compromised in the attacks, but the company has said that it does not plan on discussing the matter further unless "a significant development occurs."

Photo: © Creative Commons - Flickr: andrewlih.