US and Germany secretly owned Swiss cryptography company

Posted on Wednesday, Feb 12 2020 @ 15:03 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
In a new piece, Washington Post exposes that for more than half a century, the CIA and its West German counterpart secretly owned Crypto AG. This long-establed Swiss cryptography company sold equipment to over 120 countries until well into the 21st century. The newspaper and German public broadcaster ZDF reveals that Crypto AG sold its clients backdoored equipment, enabling the US and West Germany (and possibly other countries) to read their most secret communication:
The program had limits. America’s main adversaries, including the Soviet Union and China, were never Crypto customers. Their well-founded suspicions of the company’s ties to the West shielded them from exposure, although the CIA history suggests that U.S. spies learned a great deal by monitoring other countries’ interactions with Moscow and Beijing.

There were also security breaches that put Crypto under clouds of suspicion. Documents released in the 1970s showed extensive — and incriminating — correspondence between an NSA pioneer and Crypto’s founder. Foreign targets were tipped off by the careless statements of public officials including President Ronald Reagan. And the 1992 arrest of a Crypto salesman in Iran, who did not realize he was selling rigged equipment, triggered a devastating “storm of publicity,” according to the CIA history.


About the Author

Thomas De Maesschalck

Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.



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