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Cybersecurity & Standards, European Policy, Government Surveillance

US and UK Government SIM Card Hack Threat to Privacy, Infrastructure Security

Yesterday, The Intercept reported that the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) collaborated to hack the network of the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer and obtained the encryption keys that protect the privacy of cell phone communications. The Center for Technology & Democracy (CDT) released the following statement in response:

“Almost everyone in the world carries cell phones and this is an unprecedented mass attack on the privacy of citizens worldwide. While there is certainly value in targeted surveillance of cell phone communications, this coordinated subversion of the trusted technical security infrastructure of cell phones means the US and British governments now have easy access to our mobile communications,” said Greg Nojeim, CDT Senior Counsel.

“Standards for intelligence surveillance are weak worldwide and one of the few restraints on invasive government surveillance is the secure technical infrastructure of communications networks. Undermining that security, as NSA and GCHQ have done, makes it imperative that those standards be raised, and substantially,” Nojeim added.

“This highlights the need for a global response to the threats of government surveillance. We knew the NSA and GCHQ worked together closely, but the scale of their collaboration and the reach of their tentacles into everyone’s communications is unnerving,” Nojeim concluded.