- In what has been described as the intelligence coup of the century, a report by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German broadcaster, has revealed that the encryption device used by several governments to send diplomatic cables and encrypted messages to their officials and spies overseas was rigged by the CIA and the German intelligence agency BND. That’s because the two spy agencies owned the company manufacturing the encryption device called Crypto. The company — Crypto AG — was a Swiss firm that operated from 1960 to 2018, when the CIA sold off the company’s assets.
- Among the 62 countries that used Crypto to encrypt their official communication was India, though it’s not clear in the declassified documents as to the extent or even what all communications sent by New Delhi to its missions overseas were read by the CIA, thanks to the rigged algorithms installed in the machine that allowed the CIA to break the codes and decipher the messages. The worst part? All these 62 countries paid good money to purchase these machines — money which was utilised by the CIA to fund its other spying activities
- The operation, initially called Thesaurus and later renamed Rubicon, proved its worth with the US able to read secret messages such as Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco that resulted in the death of two US soldiers and Turkish woman. It also came in handy during the Falklands war when the US fed the UK intelligence about Argentinian army operations. In fact, in the 1980s, Crypto accounted for 40% of all diplomatic cables by foreign governments.
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