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Crypto AG – Wikipedia

Crypto AG – Wikipedia

Crypto AG was a Swiss firm specialising in communications and data safety. It was secretly collectively owned by the American CIA and West German intelligence company BND from 1970 till about 1993, with the CIA persevering with as sole proprietor till about 2018.[1] With headquarters in Steinhausen, the corporate was an extended-established producer of encryption machines and all kinds of cipher units.

The firm had about 230 workers, had workplaces in Abidjan, Abu Dhabi, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Muscat, Selsdon and Steinhausen, and did enterprise all through the world.[2] The homeowners of Crypto AG have been unknown, supposedly even to the managers of the agency, and so they held their possession via bearer shares.[3]

The firm has been criticised for promoting backdoored merchandise to learn the American, British and German nationwide indicators intelligence companies, the National Security Agency (NSA), the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), and Federal Intelligence Service (BND), respectively.[4][5][6] On 11 February 2020 The Washington Post, ZDF and SRF revealed that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a extremely labeled partnership with West German intelligence, and the spy companies might simply break the codes used to ship encrypted messages. The operation was identified first by the code identify “Thesaurus” and later “Rubicon”.[7]


Crypto AG was established in Switzerland by the Russian-born Swede, Boris Hagelin.[4] Originally known as AB Cryptoteknik and based by Arvid Gerhard Damm in Stockholm in 1920, the agency manufactured the C-36 mechanical cryptograph machine that Damm had patented. After Damm’s demise, and simply earlier than the Second World War, Cryptoteknik got here underneath the management of Boris Hagelin, an early investor, and in the course of the conflict primarily operated within the United States, the place 140,000 items have been made underneath licence as C-38 (see M-209). In the early 1950s, it was transferred from Stockholm to Steinhausen on account of a deliberate Swedish authorities nationalisation of militarily essential know-how contractors, and was integrated in Switzerland in 1952.

In 1994, Crypto AG purchased InfoGuard AG, an organization offering encryption options to banks.[4]

In 2018, Crypto AG was liquidated, and its property and mental property offered to 2 new firms. CyOne was created for Swiss home gross sales, whereas Crypto International AG was based in 2018 by Swedish entrepreneur Andreas Linde, who acquired the model identify, worldwide distribution community, and product rights from the unique Crypto AG.


The firm had radio, Ethernet, STM, GSM, telephone and fax encryption methods in its portfolio.


Compromised machines[edit]

According to declassified (however partly redacted) US authorities paperwork launched in 2015, in 1955, Crypto AG’s founder Boris Hagelin and William Friedman entered into an unwritten settlement regarding the C-52 encryption machines that compromised the safety of a few of the purchasers.[5] Friedman was a notable US authorities cryptographer who was then working for National Security Agency (NSA), the principle United States indicators intelligence company. Hagelin stored each NSA and its United Kingdom counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), knowledgeable in regards to the technical specs of various machines and which international locations have been shopping for which of them. Providing such info would have allowed the intelligence companies to cut back the time wanted to crack the encryption of messages produced by such machines from impossibly lengthy to a possible size. The secret relationship initiated by the settlement additionally concerned Crypto AG not promoting machines such because the CX-52, a extra superior model of the C-52, to sure international locations; and the NSA writing the operations manuals for a few of the CX-52 machines on behalf of the corporate, to make sure the total power of the machines wouldn’t be used, thus once more decreasing the required cracking effort. Crypto AG claims that the merchandise it at present sells should not compromised.

Crypto AG had already earlier been accused of rigging its machines in collusion with intelligence companies resembling NSA, GCHQ, and the German Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND), enabling the companies to learn the encrypted site visitors produced by the machines.[4][8] Suspicions of this collusion have been aroused in 1986 following US president Ronald Reagan‘s announcement on nationwide tv that, via interception of diplomatic communications between Tripoli and the Libyan embassy in East Berlin, he had irrefutable proof that Muammar al-Gaddafi of Libya was behind the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing by which two US service personnel have been killed and one other fifty injured. President Reagan then ordered the bombing of Tripoli and Benghazi in retaliation. There is not any conclusive proof that there was an intercepted Libyan message.[quotation wanted]

Further proof suggesting that the Crypto AG machines have been compromised was revealed after the assassination of former Iranian Prime Minister Shahpour Bakhtiar in 1991. On 7 August 1991, someday earlier than Bakhtiar’s physique was found, the Iranian Intelligence Service transmitted a coded message to Iranian embassies, inquiring “Is Bakhtiar dead?” Western governments have been in a position to decipher this transmission, inflicting Iranian suspicion to fall upon their Crypto AG tools.[9]

The Iranian authorities then arrested Crypto AG’s prime salesman, Hans Buehler, in March 1992 in Tehran. It accused Buehler of leaking their encryption codes to Western intelligence. Buehler was interrogated for 9 months however, being fully unaware of any flaw within the machines, was launched in January 1993 after Crypto AG posted bail of $1m to Iran.[10] Soon after Buehler’s launch Crypto AG dismissed him and charged him the $1m. Swiss media and the German journal Der Spiegel took up his case in 1994, interviewing former workers and concluding that Crypto’s machines had in truth repeatedly been rigged.[11]

Crypto AG rejected these accusations as “pure invention”, asserting in a press launch that “in March 1994, the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office initiated a wide-ranging preliminary investigation against Crypto AG, which was completed in 1997. The accusations regarding influence by third parties or manipulations, which had been repeatedly raised in the media, proved to be without foundation.” Subsequent commentators[12][13][14][15] have been unmoved by this denial, stating that it was seemingly that Crypto AG merchandise have been certainly rigged. Le Temps has argued that Crypto AG had been actively working with the British, US and West German secret providers since 1956, going so far as to rig manuals after the needs of the NSA.[16][17] These claims have been vindicated by US authorities paperwork declassified in 2015.[5]

In 2020, an investigation carried out by the Washington Post, Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF), and Schweizer Radio und Fernsehen (SRF) revealed that Crypto AG was, in truth, solely managed by the CIA and the BND. The challenge, initially identified by codename “Thesaurus” and later as “Rubicon” operated from the tip of the Second World War till 2018.[1][18][19]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ a b Miller, Greg (11 February 2020). “How the CIA used Crypto AG encryption devices to spy on countries for decades”. The Washington Post. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  2. ^ “Headquarters and regional offices worldwide”. Crypto AG. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
  3. ^ “Spionage: Unheimlich kooperativ”. Bilanz (in German). 1 January 2013. ISSN 1022-3487. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d (in French) Mehdi Atmani, “Agents doubles”, Le Temps, Friday 21 August 2015, web page 11.
  5. ^ a b c Corera, Gordon (28 July 2015). “How NSA and GCHQ spied on the Cold War world”. BBC. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  6. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/information/world-europe-51467536
  7. ^ Greg, Miller (11 February 2020). “The CIA secretly bought a company that sold encryption devices across the world. Then its spies sat back and listened”. Washington Post. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  8. ^ Wer ist der befugte Vierte?” Geheimdienste unterwandern den Schutz von Verschlüsselungsgeräten”. Der Spiegel (in German). 2 September 1996. 36/96.
  9. ^ Madsen, Wayne (1999). “Crypto AG: The NSA’s Trojan Whore?”. Covert Action Quarterly. Retrieved 11 February 2020.
  10. ^ Schneier, Bruce (15 June 2004). “Breaking Iranian codes”. Crypto-Gram publication. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  11. ^ Shane, Scott; Tom Bowman (four December 1995). “No Such Agency, part four: Rigging the game”. The Baltimore Sun. pp. 9–11. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  12. ^ De Braeckeleer, Ludwig (29 December 2007). “The NSA-Crypto AG Sting”. OhmyNews. Archived from the unique on 29 December 2008.
  13. ^ Grabbe, J. Orlin (2 November 1997). “NSA, Crypto AG, and the Iraq-Iran conflict”. Archived from the unique on 7 June 2007.
  14. ^ Schneier, Bruce (11 January 2008). “NSA Backdoors in Crypto AG Ciphering Machines”. Schneier on Security weblog. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
  15. ^ Baranyi, Laszlo (11 November 1998). “The story about Crypto AG”. Archived from the unique on 14 December 2010.
  16. ^ Atmani, Mehdi (30 July 2015). “Depuis 1956, l’entreprise suisse Crypto AG collaborait avec le renseignement américain, britannique et allemand”.
  17. ^ Baranyi, Steven (30 July 2015). “Cryptologie: un lecteur du “Temps” raconte les dessous de l’alliance entre la Suisse et les Anglo-saxons”.
  18. ^ “#cryptoleaks: Wie die Crypto AG weltweit agierte”. ZDFheute (in German). 11 February 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2020.
  19. ^ “Operation Rubikon”. ZDFmediathek (in German). 11 February 2020. Retrieved 12 February 2020.

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