A couple of days ago news hit the web that an NSA-linked group can infect the firmware of most HDDs and SSDs and now there's more controversy as Edward Snowden accuses the NSA and British partner GCHQ of hacking into Gemalto, the largest SIM card manufacturer in the world. The Dutch firm makes two billion SIM cards each year, providing SIM cards to over 450 wireless network providers in 85 countries around the world.
By hacking into Gemalto's systems, the NSA can acquire the encryption keys of these SIM cards, allowing the agency to secretly monitor both voice calls and data by putting up a fake aerial to listen in on anyone's calls in an area.
Gemalto makes two billion SIM cards each year, with the NSA hacking into the company and stealing its encryption keys, giving them access to secretly monitor both voice calls and data. The Intercept reported on the news, which has reportedly provided spy agencies with the ability of secretly monitoring gigantic portions of the world's cellular communications, which experts have said is a major violation of international laws. Considering Gemalto makes SIM cards for companies like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, you can begin to see the scope of this hack by the US government agency. Gemalto itself operates in some 85 countries around the world, providing SIM cards to over 450 wireless network providers.
Chris Soghoian, Principal Technologist at the American Civil Liberties Union, has said that this new hack by the NSA allows them to "put an aerial up on the embassy in Berlin and listen in to anyone's calls in the area". Soghoian added that it's now next to impossible for anyone to fully trust their smartphone. He added: "It is very unlikely that this is an issue that is going to be fixed anytime soon. There is no reason for people to trust AT&T, Verizon or anyone at this point. Their systems are hopelessly insecure".