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The Intelligence Coup of the Century: For Decades, The CIA Read the Encrypted Communications of Allies and Adversaries

Author: Greg Miller

Affiliation: Washington Post

Organization/Publisher: Washington Post

Date/Place: February 11, 2020, Washington DC

Type of Literature: Investigative Report

Word Count: 8283


Keywords: CIA, Encryption, Crypto, Germany, BND, Espionage


In this article, the author gives an in-depth revelation of how the CIA used a Swiss encryption company named Crypto AG to spy on many countries. Crypto AG supplied machines that would allow countries to send secure messages by utilizing encryption. Government agencies used Crypto’s machines under the impression that their messages were secure. However, all the machines sold to countries were rigged by the CIA, allowing the NSA and CIA to read all the messages. The access to the information was so lucrative that eventually the CIA bought stakes in the company along with the BND (German Intelligence). States like the Soviet Union and China escaped the reach of Western intelligence agencies because they avoided using Crypto services. Employees of the company were oblivious of the fact that the CIA and the BND owned their company. Forty percent of all intelligence owned by the CIA came from Crypto. The CIA was monitoring messages sent from the Iranians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Saudis, Indians and many more. In 2017 the headquarters of Crypto and the company were sold to new management for around $70 million. 

By: M. Üveys Han, CIGA Senior Research Associate



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