22nd Feb 2015
A NEW report by The Intercepthas revealed the movie-like plot of US and UK spy agencies gaining access to the world’s smartphones by stealing the secret keys for SIM cards.
It’s claimed that the British Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) and the American National Security Agency (NSA) successfully hacked into the network of the world’s largest SIM card manufacturer, Gemalto, and stole keys that allow them to access your phone data.
Basically, this means your phone could be vulnerable to the world’s most powerful spy agencies, including Australia’s ASIO.
In Australia, all three major telcos – Telstra, Vodafone and Optus – are customers of Gemalto. News.com.au has approached all three carriers for comment.
While ASIO and other Australian agencies aren’t believed to be directly involved with this operation, Australia is a part of the joint international intelligence group with the USA, UK, Canada and New Zealand known as ‘Five Eyes’. As a part of this alliance, intelligence is freely shared between the nations. That could include access to Australian SIM numbers if local spy agencies deemed it necessary.
Despite the report, security experts have cautioned that spy agencies might not have everything they need to access our phones. They say that separate encryption codes are needed at an individual operator’s level, meaning the agencie could not simply hack into a global network of phones without individual network operators’ unique codes.
But given the track record of the NSA and its allies when it come to attaining data, it would still be foolish to write off the possibility.
This all comes courtesy of the fugitive former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. He claims GCHQ spies were able to gain the keys by essentially cyberstalking Gemalto employees, finding whatever they could to lead them into Gemalto’s systems.