The National Security Agency (NSA) has hacked cellphone networks worldwide for many years, according to a report by The Intercept based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Ryan Gallagher’s article analyzes the contents of at least nine NSA documents that show how the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies, as well as other countries that are close to the US. The NSA has managed to find weaknesses in the cell phone network grid and use these weaknesses for spying and monitoring.
This cell phone surveillance operation is nicknamed “Operation Auroragold.” The report states that the NSA can access every cell phone company and grid in the world. They have found hacks and vulnerabilities in all of them. There is also evidence that the NSA has tried to weaken the security of cell phone networks. The main worry is that these network vulnerabilities are now known and, without efforts to repair them, hackers will be the next ones intercepting our communications.
The NSA is currently working on developing better hacking skills and they are already looking into future security patches and systems, so that they will be ready when new, improved systems are implemented. The NSA states that all this is being done in effort to seek out and locate terrorists, weapon dealers, and other foreign targets; however, in the process of doing this, every day peoples’ phone calls are being screened and intercepted.
Source: Ryan Gallagher, “Operation Auroragold: How the NSA Hacks Cellphone Networks Worldwide,” The Intercept, December 4, 2014, https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2014/12/04/nsa-auroragold-hack-cellphones/.
Student Researcher: Michael Brannon (Sonoma State University)
Faculty Evaluator: Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)