The intelligence services of Germany and the United States for many decades collected secret information of other countries, because they had direct access to the Swiss manufacturer of cryptographic hardware Crypto AG, writes the BBC.
This firm has supplied encoders to the governments of 120 countries since the beginning of the cold war until 2000-ies. Intelligence in the US and Germany had a key to all the ciphers, so could read the secret messages of such countries as Iran, India and Pakistan.
A deeply classified program, which was conducted jointly by the CIA and German intelligence, the BND, reported by several international media, including the Washington Post, German television station ZDF and the Swiss channel SRF. They gained access to the secret internal files of the CIA, where this operation is called “exploration success of the century”.
In the 1980-ies about 40% of all foreign correspondence, read CIA, were deciphered thanks to the keys to the Crypto machines.
The company received millions in profits, which also got the CIA and the Federal intelligence service of Germany (BND).
As writes Washington Post, because of this, Americans could follow the Iranian officials during the seizure of the American Embassy in Tehran in 1979, and put Britain’s intelligence about the actions of the Argentine military during the war over the Falklands.
Neither the Soviet Union, followed by Russia, nor China do not trust this equipment and never used it.
The current Swiss firm Crypto International, formed on the basis of the same after in 2018 it has changed owners, declares that it has nothing to do with the CIA nor the BND and extremely disappointed appearing in the press messages.
Swiss authorities reported that they had learned about the activities of the company in November 2019, and appointed a retired Federal judge to investigate all the circumstances.
Groans throughout Switzerland
The Imogen Foulkes, Geneva
Throughout Switzerland heard painful groans. “Lost our reputation, says one political reporter. “Our neutrality is hypocrisy,” declares another.
In fact, about cases of Crypto AG was rumored for a long time. The employees suspected that something was wrong.
And the Swiss government always knew about it, because it only got the machine Crypto, with which it hasn’t “worked” for the CIA. But of course, it hurts to see when about this whole suddenly wrote to the world press.
It once again reminded the Swiss of that image, which they so vehemently trying to get rid of: that the corresponding money they’ll do anything.
Their banks at the time oversaw billions, which grabbed various dictators; they turned a blind eye to tax evasion in huge amounts.
It is assumed that all of this is gone, but now another pride of Swiss precision engineering — also he got himself in trouble.
The CIA used Crypto AG because we knew that the reputation of Switzerland as a neutral country, but producing high-quality products will attract buyers in the face of governments around the world.
Switzerland got the money and the car was sold with a serious defect. And now everyone knows it.
The story of the creation of Crypto. With Russian roots.
The first cipher machine was invented born in Yelizavetpol province (now the territory of Azerbaijan), Boris Hagelin, after the revolution, who left home to Sweden with his parents.
He invented a portable cipher machine in the early 1940-ies, when he fled from Nazi Germany occupied Norway to the United States. The machine was compact enough that it could use the military in the field. She gained a lot of popularity in the U.S. army.
After the Second world war Hagelin moved to Switzerland.
His encryption machines during that period improved so much that US intelligence agencies feared that I will be able to spy on other countries.
However, American cryptographer William Friedman (who was born in pre-revolutionary Russia) convinced Hagelin to sell the protected machines only to countries approved by the United States.
Earlier samples, easy crack the CIA sold to many countries of the world.
In the 1970s years, the United States and Germany jointly bought Crypto, which allowed them to control almost everything from hiring new employees and create new models of the cipher machines up to their sales abroad.
That these machines were not entirely reliable, long suspected, but only now it became known for certain.