For over 50 years, the nations of the world trusted a Swiss Company called Crypo AG to provide it with code-making machines to keep intelligence information about their spies, soldiers, and diplomats a secret. But the real secret was that the company was run by the CIA along with West German Intelligence, which ensured that the devices were rigged so that the Agency could read any transmission.
Greg Miller reported for the Washington Post:
The company, Crypto AG, got its first break with a contract to build code-making machines for U.S. troops during World War II. Flush with cash, it became a dominant maker of encryption devices for decades, navigating waves of technology from mechanical gears to electronic circuits and, finally, silicon chips and software.
The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.
But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.
This arrangement, which was a closely guarded secret of the Cold War, has been exposed in a classified history obtained by the Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster.
The response to the story has been stunning.
In case you’ve ever wondered why the US national security community is always so freaked out about Huawei… https://t.co/GjHgMUczIg
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) February 11, 2020
For more than half a century, countries all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.
— Greg Miller (@gregpmiller) February 11, 2020
— Martin SFP Bryant (@MartinSFP) February 11, 2020
“what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence.”
— C. Stelzenmüller (@ConStelz) February 11, 2020
For anyone who thinks US worries about Huawei and other Chinese tech companies is overblown… https://t.co/ctSkptA9MY
— Alex Finley (@alexzfinley) February 11, 2020
The CIA monitored Iran’s mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis, fed intelligence to Britain during the Falklands War, tracked the assassination campaigns of South American dictators and caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco. https://t.co/EbVUVPaGn9
— Lynda Robinson (@WPLyndaRobinson) February 11, 2020
“The Swiss firm made millions of dollars selling equipment to more than 120 countries well into the 21st century. Its clients included Iran, military juntas in Latin America, nuclear rivals India and Pakistan, and even the Vatican.” https://t.co/cfh07Icm6v
— Kim Zetter (@KimZetter) February 11, 2020
The fact that Crypto AG sold rigged encryption hardware to western adversaries has been reported before, but it was far more pervasive than I ever imagined. https://t.co/stJZ0t49kY
— matt blaze (@mattblaze) February 11, 2020