CIA's Use Of Swiss Encryption Firm For Spying Unlikely Isolated Case - Ex-MI6 Officer
Faizan Hashmi Published February 12, 2020 | 10:40 PM
The existence of numerous online platforms makes it very likely that situations similar to the one involving the CIA's use of a Swiss encryption company to spy on more than 120 countries for over 50 years are already happening, a retired officer of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) told Sputnik under the pseudonym Nicholas Anderson
GENOA (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 12th February, 2020) The existence of numerous online platforms makes it very likely that situations similar to the one involving the CIA's use of a Swiss encryption company to spy on more than 120 countries for over 50 years are already happening, a retired officer of the UK's Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) told Sputnik under the pseudonym Nicholas Anderson.
On Tuesday, The Washington Post newspaper and German broadcaster ZDF published a joint investigation in which they revealed that the CIA and West German intelligence (BND) secretly owned Swiss firm Crypto AG between 1970 and 1993, with the CIA remaining a secret owner until 2018, when the firm was liquidated. The identities of the Swiss firm's shareholders had been hidden from public by the laws of Liechtenstein. The company, founded in 1952, had been selling sophisticated equipment to governments all over the world.
"Switzerland's secure encrypted service Protonmail is probably the most popular in the world right now. It's founders all come from CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research, which is also in Switzerland. And their service is free. When you see anything 'free' you know deep down that they are profiting a different way. So, of course, the repetition of this story is already underway," Anderson said, when asked if users of online encrypted services and mobile applications could be spied on.
Protonmail is not the only service that someone might use to take advantage of its users, the former intelligence officer continued.
"There are many others operational. For example Hushmail in Ireland and Canada. The only safe way in this day and age to keep secrets safe is [to keep it] verbalized between one person and another inside a secure white noise room. ... As you well know, once anything is passed to a third person then it is no longer a secret," he said.
Crypto's clients included Iran, Latin America, India, Pakistan, and even the Vatican, as well as many others, according to the reports. Russia and China, on the other hand, have managed to steer clear of the equipment.
Switzerland, famous for its neutrality policy, said Tuesday it was launching an investigation into the espionage allegations.
"Obviously Switzerland was always known for keeping secrets, both in its legal system and morally. Historically it's how the country makes its money. ... People in the secrecy business need to live where they feel safe from prosecution," Anderson said.