By Zhou Zhou and Liu Pinran
US media recently revealed that the intelligence agencies of the US and the former Federal Republic of Germany (West Germany) have secretly controlled Swiss crypto equipment supplier Crypto AG to obtain confidential information of other countries since the 1970s. West Germany soon stopped that after the German reunification. However, the US did not stop this intelligence stealing operation until 2018.
Analysts point out that the US has always claimed to be a cybersecurity guard and has frequently accused other countries of launching cyberattacks while ignoring its own dirty work. The incident of stealing intelligence from other countries through equipment of a Swiss company once again highlighted the cyberbullying thinking of the US who plays the trick of a thief crying "Stop thief!"
"Having stolen a lot of intelligence"
The German media had suspected that as early as in 1996 Crypto AG's equipment was already rigged by the German and American agencies, but the Swiss company responded that the report was baseless at that time.
This issue was thrown in the spotlight again by a long report published by The Washington Post on February 11. The classified CIA documents related to the issue were made public by The Washington Post and the Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen, or ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.
According to the report, the CIA and West German intelligence agency BND jointly acquired and actually controlled Crypto AG. The firm has sold encryption devices to more than 120 countries over the years, including Iran, India, Pakistan, and some Latin American countries. The US and West Germany obtained confidential information from other countries through backdoors on the devices. Foreign governments paid the US and West Germany a huge price and ended up letting these two countries (possibly up to five or six countries) read their most confidential communications.
Such stealing methods once achieved outstanding results. According to the report, the US and West Germany monitored Iran's mullahs during the 1979 hostage crisis, fed intelligence about Argentina's military to Britain during the Falklands War in 1982, tracked the assassination campaigns of South American dictators and caught Libyan officials congratulating themselves on the 1986 bombing of a Berlin disco by way of Crypto AG’s devices.
It is reported that after the German reunification in 1990, the German intelligence agency considered that the above-mentioned intelligence stealing operations were too risky, and then withdrew from it. The CIA immediately bought the German stake and continued the operation until 2018.
There were multitudes of network misdeeds committed by the US
The above-mentioned actions disclosed by the US media are just one example of the evil cyber behavior of the US, and there are many such examples.
According to Edward Snowden, a former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor, NAS hacked into Chinese companies' systems to steal source code, read customer lists and internal emails in early 2009.
In April 2017, the media exposed the news that a hacking organization related to the NSA attacked EastNets, the largest financial service provider in the Middle East of the transfer settlement system SWIFT, and stole a lot of host information and login credentials.
US intelligence agencies were exposed to attack on some Iranian computer systems and paralyze Iran's rocket launch system last June. The US also implanted malicious program code into the Russian power system to spy on intelligence or launch a cyberattack on the Russian power system.
In terms of system and strategy, the US government officially elevated its Cyber Command to the 10th unified combatant command in 2017, which has the same status as major combat commands such as US Central Command. The US released the National Cyber Strategy in 2018, emphasizing the "preemptive strike" in cyberspace. Some analysts believe that various trends indicate that the US is intensifying its preparations for cyber warfare.
Public opinion points out that the US has endless dirty actions in the cybersecurity field including the implementation of monitoring, stealing information and undermining. However, the US has continued to accuse other countries of undermining cybersecurity, playing the trick of a thief crying "Stop thief!" and shifting the blame on to its victims. This double standard behavior highlights the US hegemonic thinking.
Following the exposure of the intelligence stealing operations, Germany and Switzerland, who are related to the operation, demanded investigation and expressed concerns.
In Germany, several members of the German parliament have asked the government to investigate the incident. Free Democratic Party's Stephan Thomae said that "This kind of behavior is intolerable". The government must immediately break its silence and initiate "an unreserved and comprehensive investigation into these allegations," said Thomae. André Hahn of Die Linke said that the intelligence stealing operation is "the biggest historical scandal in the history of BND."
In Switzerland, some media believe that this incident is likely to affect the "neutrality" of this permanent neutral country in future international events. Neue Zürcher Zeitung reported that Switzerland has always been known for maintaining neutrality in international affairs, and Swiss technology companies rely on the neutrality of the country to develop their businesses. US suppliers have been labeled as unsafe, and Swiss companies have taken the lead in the international market since the "Snowden Incident". If Crypto AG was actually part of the CIA's monitoring network until two years ago, it would have affected the reputation of the entire Swiss industry and undermined its competitive advantages.