Report: NSA May Have Hacked Billions of SIM Cards

Online news publication The Intercept reported on Thursday that American and British spies hacked into the internal network of security firm Gemalto and stole encryption keys used to protect the privacy of cellular communications around the world.

The Intercept is not merely speculating. The online magazine said it has top-secret documents Edward Snowden, the infamous National Security Agency (NSA) whistleblower, handed its staff. If itEUs true, this could mean an end to cellular privacy -- at least unless the SIM cards are replaced.

EUWith these stolen encryption keys, intelligence agencies can monitor mobile communications without seeking or receiving approval from telecom companies and foreign governments,EU according to The Intercept. EUPossessing the keys also sidesteps the need to get a warrant or a wiretap, while leaving no trace on the wireless providerEUs 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.EU

Gemalto Responds

Gemalto responded to the report that a joint unit of operatives from the British GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) and the NSA hacked the SIM card encryption keys it engraved. Gemalto stressed that it was not the target, per se. The company said it was an attempt to cast the widest net possible, to reach as many mobile phones as possible, to monitor mobile communications without the consent of mobile network operators and users.

EUWe cannot at this early stage verify the findings of the publication and had no prior knowledge that these agencies were conducting this operation,EU the company said in a statement. EUGemalto, the world leader in digital security, is especially vigilant against malicious hackers, and has detected, logged and mitigated many types of attempts over the years. At present we cannot prove a link...

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