Holy smokes! Edward Snowden has exposed that American and British spies hacked into the internal computer network of the largest manufacturer of SIM cards in the world (GEMALTO), stealing encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellphone communications across the globe. This hot on the heels of a Kaspersky Lab report alledging that Toshiba, Western Digital, Seagate and IBM all saw their hard drive security compromised by the U.S. security serices.
In all, Gemalto produces some 2 billion SIM cards a year. Its motto is “Security to be Free.” With these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments. Possessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless provider’s network that the communications were intercepted. Bulk key theft additionally enables the intelligence agencies to unlock any previously encrypted communications they had already intercepted, but did not yet have the ability to decrypt.