The NSA has recently conducted a campaign focused on the interception of internal communications of operators and trade groups in order to infiltrate mobile networks around the world, according to recent revelations from Edward Snowden.
The U.S. National Security Agency ran two undisclosed operations, the Wireless Portfolio Management Office and the Target Technology Trends Center, operating under the aegis of a program called Auroragold, according to an article Saturday in The Intercept, which also published related documents.
Operations closely monitored the GSM Association with a maintained list of 1,201 email targets or “selectors” used to intercept internal company communications and gathered information of network security flaws in the process.
As of May 2012, NSA documents shown that the company had collected technical information on about 70% of the estimated 985 mobile phone networks worldwide. Besides mentioned names of operations in Libya, Iran, and China; no other names of the targeted networks were disclosed in the documents revealed by Snowden. Intercept founding editors Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras have been instrumental in helping Snowden leak NSA documents to the public through various media outlet
The mentioned NSA operations collected information in “IR.21” documents used by the GMSA members to report security weaknesses and encryption details used by mobile operators, according to the documents of Mr. Snowden. The NSA used this information to circumvent encrypted communications, according to the documents.
“NSA collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect in response to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence requirements — regardless of the technical means used by foreign targets, or the means by which those targets attempt to hide their communications,” the NSA said in an emailed statement. “Terrorists, weapons proliferators, and other foreign targets often rely on the same means of communication as ordinary people. In order to anticipate and understand evolving threats to our citizens and our allies, NSA works to indentify and report on the communications of valid foreign targets.”
Since June 2013, Snowden’s leaked documents have lead to a series of of reports on the extent of NSA’s spying on Internet and telecom networks worldwide. The documents have also shown that the NSA has hacked into emails of leaders of U.S. allies as well as into networks and equipment of foreign companies including China-based Huawei.
Additional to the covert spying, the NSA has a bulk telephone record collection system highly criticized by many. Last month, NSA Director Michael Rogers said the agency is planning no major changes in its domestic telephone records collection program after a bill to curb those efforts failed in the Senate.
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