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‘The intelligence coup of the century’...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Bandit99, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    WOW!...just...friggin WOW! These last couple of years has been an eye opener but this...

    This is a long story...You need to google some but I will post a bit here to give you a taste...The best is from the Washington Post itself which is the author which I post from...I don't have the WP link...you'll have to find it yourself. Read what I posted to at least get the gist of it and the next time you see or hear of "the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky, a texting app tied to the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei" think of this article (below) and you'll understand why many are up in arms, totally freak out about Huawei being so integrated with 5G or about any foreign country app or service LOL!

    I don't like the Washington Post but this was fine reporting...I'm totally blown away. This makes Air America seem like...peanuts?

    ‘The intelligence coup of the century’: For decades, the CIA read the encrypted communications of allies and adversaries.

    "For more than half a century, governments all over the world trusted a single company to keep the communications of their spies, soldiers and diplomats secret.

    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.

    The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.

    The account identifies the CIA officers who ran the program and the company executives entrusted to execute it. It traces the origin of the venture as well as the internal conflicts that nearly derailed it. It describes how the United States and its allies exploited other nations’ gullibility for years, taking their money and stealing their secrets.

    The operation, known first by the code name “Thesaurus” and later “Rubicon,” ranks among the most audacious in CIA history.

    “It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”
    From 1970 on, the CIA and its code-breaking sibling, the National Security Agency, controlled nearly every aspect of Crypto’s operations — presiding with their German partners over hiring decisions, designing its technology, sabotaging its algorithms and directing its sales targets.
    Then, the U.S. and West German spies sat back and listened.

    They monitored Iran’s mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis, fed intelligence about Argentina’s military 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.

    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.

    But the true extent of the company’s relationship with the CIA and its German counterpart was until now never revealed.

    The German spy agency, the BND, came to believe the risk of exposure was too great and left the operation in the early 1990s. But the CIA bought the Germans’ stake and simply kept going, wringing Crypto for all its espionage worth until 2018, when the agency sold off the company’s assets, according to current and former officials.

    The company’s importance to the global security market had fallen by then, squeezed by the spread of online encryption technology. Once the province of governments and major corporations, strong encryption is now as ubiquitous as apps on cellphones.

    Even so, the Crypto operation is relevant to modern espionage. Its reach and duration helps to explain how the United States developed an insatiable appetite for global surveillance that was exposed in 2013 by Edward Snowden. There are also echoes of Crypto in the suspicions swirling around modern companies with alleged links to foreign governments, including the Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky, a texting app tied to the United Arab Emirates and the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei.

    This story is based on the CIA history and a parallel BND account, also obtained by The Post and ZDF, interviews with current and former Western intelligence officials as well as Crypto employees. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the subject.

    It is hard to overstate how extraordinary the CIA and BND histories are. Sensitive intelligence files are periodically declassified and released to the public. But it is exceedingly rare, if not unprecedented, to glimpse authoritative internal histories of an entire covert operation. The Post was able to read all of the documents, but the source of the material insisted that only excerpts be published.

    The CIA and the BND declined to comment, though U.S. and German officials did not dispute the authenticity of the documents. The first is a 96-page account of the operation completed in 2004 by the CIA’s Center for the Study of Intelligence, an internal historical branch. The second is an oral history compiled by German intelligence officials in 2008.

    The overlapping accounts expose frictions between the two partners over money, control and ethical limits, with the West Germans frequently aghast at the enthusiasm with which U.S. spies often targeted allies.

    But both sides describe the operation as successful beyond their wildest projections. At times, including in the 1980s, Crypto accounted for roughly 40 percent of the diplomatic cables and other transmissions by foreign governments that cryptanalysts at the NSA decoded and mined for intelligence, according to the documents.

    All the while, Crypto generated millions of dollars in profits that the CIA and BND split and plowed into other operations.
  2. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    and you folks are just figuring this out, NOW.... Why do you think Phil Zimmerman was hounded for a Decade, by the US.GOV, for PGP, and later for GPG...
  3. aardbewoner

    aardbewoner judge a human on how he act,not on look and talk.

    Whats new ? EVERY government spy for there benefit, not there people/slaves who if needed are drafted.
    Gator 45/70 and Ura-Ki like this.
  4. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Come on BTPost, no one could believe in a million years the scale and scope of this or even its possibility.

    That fact that we TRY to listen to other allied governments is known - yes - just like they try to listen to us (especially the French and Israelis) but - to have complete unfettered access? Give me a break...our allies aren't dummies, in fact, most the time they do twice as much as we do with half the resources. And, if you take this into consideration along with how long it was going on and the scope of the operation... It's amazing! And, very little leakage for all that time... No, I think this is pretty incredible...

    ...but it does make me wonder if we had this great intelligence at our finger tips then why has our foreign policy always been such a disaster?
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2020
    Gator 45/70 and Ura-Ki like this.
  5. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    Easy answer, NOBODY could ever play in the same sand box at the same time!
    Look how long it took for all the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces to be able to even talk to each other, let alone share intel and coms! I remember a time when we had to carry a small notebook of coms for each branch, had to code in our radios to THAT service and then wait for the digital handshake to get a secure connection, and only then could we talk to them, and half the time not able to understand each other because nobody spoke the COMMON language, instead we all spoke our own lingo which was very confusing when things were "Sporty". Now, imagine one Intelligence agency with all that incoming intel, naturally they don't want to share it, they want to take full credit for developing it, and they also have a very real fear of and serious trust issues with the other branches of the intelligence services, so naturally, they don't really wanna share! Then there is the risk of a leak, and exposing the intel you have, so it was of great necessity to keep it close and hidden from every one outside your team! This all worked because only certain folks knew where all the puzzle pieces were, or that there was even a puzzle in the first place, so it got kept secret for a very long time!
    Gator 45/70 and Bandit99 like this.
  6. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    @Ura-Ki "Look how long it took for all the branches of the U.S. Armed Forces to be able to even talk to each other, let alone share intel and coms!"

    Geez, you are definitely showing your age now! LOL! I actually worked on a lot of that stuff for many, many years getting Joint Services and Agencies comms and intel to actually work together. It was a real mess! You remember the TIME magazine article that actually was the catalyst that finally forced the services to play nice together. Clinton declassified a lot of stuff, stuff the warfighter actually needed. I was working imagery at that time and we couldn't even give the pilots a decent image to tell them what target to hit. Ships couldn't talk to some shore units of different services, different gear, different protocols, different keys...what a mess. All of them had their own standards... And, the distrust between agencies - unbelievable. It took a lot of harsh butt spankings some delivered from as high as the executive level to get them to just to play nice together not even to work or cooperate together, just to play nice.

    And then, the different classifications by different services or what always use to bite me in the ass, my clearance would be good for one service but not another or a different agency so I would have to be vetted all over again by the service or agency which isn't cheap in time (sometimes a full year or more even though you are documented fully) or money, drove me nuts. I cannot tell you how many times this happened... I would go to some facility to work on something and even though my clearances had been passed to the Security/SCIF Manager I would always bump up against something like this at the last moment...

    "they want to take full credit for developing it, and they also have a very real fear of and serious trust issues with the other branches of the intelligence services, so naturally, they don't really wanna share! Then there is the risk of a leak..."
    I guess in hindsight they were right! However, to have the intel and sit on it or classify it (which is another trick they use) so that it cannot assist in a pertinent crisis - well - I thought we were loooooong pass that so my original question still stands 'Why has our foreign policy always been such a disaster when we had such great intelligence?' Perhaps the real answer is the more things change the more they stay the same...
    Gator 45/70 and Ura-Ki like this.
  7. Ura-Ki

    Ura-Ki Grudge Monkey

    Back when I enlisted, it was a very poor time to be in the service, any branch! About the only good to come from any of it was the standards they set for recruits was pretty high, so at least we didn't get a bunch of dumbasses outta basic!
    When I first got my training slot, things were BAD, as bad as it can get, moral was very low, readiness was dismal, and crime was at an all time high ( Almost half the population of Leavenworth was A.F. personal)! We did our very best to maintain standards, but the rest of the service was so bad that just showing up at all was considered a mission success! We had constant accidents and losses, about a 52% mission readiness rating, and competency was in the dumps. It was NOT a pleasant experience, and many an airman ether quit, got arrested, or left the service after his 4! Senior enlisted were coasting by till retirement, and officers were ether running some side show gig, or backstabbing each other for a handful of promotions in an ever decreasing pool of open slots!
    We had some good stuff, but we were so bad, that we couldn't put anything together and make a mission with out some serious over kill in the planning depts! Watching 2 full squadrons of F-15's line up for a launch and seeing almost half aborting for some kind of failure or malfunction was really depressing, and worse, if a plane made it into the air, having it turn back immediately and declare an emergency, should have been serious, ( and it was disheartening) but there was almost NO sense of responsibility, and heads still had to roll, so good airmen got blamed and got busted for a systemic failure that was likely not of their own making, and yet they were a part of the problem as a whole!
    As I understand it, all of the Mil. went through much the same, though I didn't get to see any of it, I can only imagine it was just as bad as we had it! After 1990, things changed Drastically, for the better, and while it took awhile to clean out the junk and cut the fat, it did finally happen, and I got to be a part of that, and it was awesome!
    Yard Dart and Gator 45/70 like this.
  8. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Sure we did... Everyone in the Secure Comms field knew that what was considered Secure, wasn’t... and never had been... That is exactly why the RSA Encryption Algorithm & Technology was such a Giant Leap forward.... It was developed outside the NSA/CIA cabal, and Phil was such an A$$hole about giving the tech to the “People” that they realized if it went that way, all their backdoor holes, were useless, and even the best supercomputers in existence at that time couldn’t break the resulting encryption, in anything close to Real-Time, and back then ten years was considered Real-Rime...
    Now days, by adding key lengths passed 2048 bits, makes all time since the Birth of Christ just beyond Real-Time... and that doesn’t even consider the newer Parabolic and Eliptical Encryption schemes that have built on and extended Phil’s basic Technology...
    You want Secure Comms... Build yourself a OneTime Phrase Pad and only give the Pad to the other actual human on the other end... then keep changing the Pad... very often... Like use a 10X10 OneTime to encypt each new Phrase Pad, which changes every couple of uses... and use the next OneTime Phrase PAD to transmit the next 10X10 OneTime Pad changes to the far end of the link... As long as the PADs are secure your comms are secure... 2048 Bit Keys can be sent encrypted with the 10X10 OneTime PAD easily, and changed just as often as required...
    Ura-Ki and VisuTrac like this.
  9. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Yeah, it's fine this leaked out. We have even better data collection tools out there now. Meta data abound.
    Acting on it .. different story.
    Ura-Ki likes this.
  10. Wildbilly

    Wildbilly Monkey+

    When you are playing cards with a marked deck you have to lose a few hands every now and then...
    Bandit99, Ura-Ki and BTPost like this.
  11. BTPost

    BTPost Stumpy Old Fart Snow Monkey Moderator

    Kind of like the “Ultra Information” coming out of Bletchley Park during WWII... You have to release only information that could be confirmed by two other sources, independent to what you developed with Ultra...
    Bandit99 and Ura-Ki like this.
  12. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Exactly! Like the time Churchill didn't warn Coventry, England they were going to be bomb fearing it would expose Ultra (Enigma) and 3000 people were killed (think that was the number), city was ruined, such is war...

    Still, I think it is amazing it the scope, scale and how long it lasted...also shows the CIA can get it right some times.
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