by Brandon Butler
CIA Secretly Owned Encryption Company Used Worldwide, Freely Read Encrypted Messages for Decades 2/12/2020

Huge news from Greg Miller at The Washington Post on the CIA’s secret side hustle: selling compromised encryption devices:

But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.

The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project. […]

“It was the intelligence coup of the century,” the CIA report concludes. “Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”

This entire story is incredible. They only ended the operation because they lost control of the technology: Anyone with a smartphone and an app today can have real, secure encryption — and as people like AG Bill Bar and Senator Lindsey Graham have told us over the years, giving the American public access to encryption technology terrifies them.