A new report from The Intercept shows that the US National Security Agency (NSA) has been eavesdropping about 70 percent of world’s mobile phone networks through a secret program called Auroragold for several years now. Auroragold managed to exploit security breaches and even insert new ones into various cellular networks to help NSA illicitly listen in on phone calls and text messages.
The infos come from a former NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, who in June 2013 made public thousands of classified NSA documents on several social networks and websites. Last year, journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald met Snowden in Hong Kong who revealed them more classified information about NSA spying techniques. The two occasionally publish these data in their on-line publication, The Intercept, and track public and governmental reactions.
Snowden was sentenced by the US Department of Justice to 30 years in prison for violating the US Espionage Act and theft of government property and now temporary lives in Russia.
According to the latest report from The Intercept, NSA’s Auroragold program has been ceaselessly spying more than 1.200 e-mail accounts and communications made through dozens of mobile phone networks across the globe for the last few years.
One of NSA’s main targets was GSM Association (GSMA), an association of mobile operators headquartered in the UK that counts among its members some of the world’s largest telephony operators and IT companies, such as AT&T, Vodafone, Cisco, Samsung and Microsoft. GSMA helps these companies to better implement new technologies and enhance cellular network security across the world.
The Intercept report revealed that NSA showed a great interest in GSMA’s documentation on roaming technology that allows mobile phone users calling home when traveling abroad. NSA particularly spied on GSMA’s encryption protocols and new roaming technologies.
Such disclosures have already put NSA in a bad light for both public and foreign intelligence agencies. So, NSA would not confirm the latest leaks.
Vanee Vines, spokesperson for the US agency, recently said in an e-mail that NSA operates within the law and it adheres to a presidential mandate in its “attention to everyday means of communication” in a commitment to a secure, open and interoperable global Internet.
“Terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other foreign targets often rely on the same means of communication as ordinary people. In order to anticipate and understand evolving threats to our citizens and our allies, NSA works to identify and report on the communications of valid foreign targets,”
Vines has also said.
According to the Intercept report, NSA has been collected information through 70 percent of worldwide cell phone networks including those in Middle East, China, and Northern Africa. Surprisingly, the US was not among NSA’s top targets of network espionage.