NRT: The NSA pwns Vodafone

Written By: - Date published: 2:20 pm, December 5th, 2014 - 16 comments
Categories: Spying - Tags: , , ,

no-right-turn-256Reposted from No Right Turn

Overnight, The Intercept spilled the beans on AURORAGOLD, the NSA’s programme to hack the world’s cellphone providers. They spy on cellphone operators to gain knowledge of network architecture and vulnerabilities, and deliberately introduce vulnerabilities into new technology (something which exposes us to hacking not just by them, but by everybody else as well). The article included a classified map (from here, p. 24), which showed their degree of penetration. The interesting bit? New Zealand was on it:


That “43%” is the level of network coverage – basically, what proportion of the total NZ cellphone market they’ve compromised. The data dates from 2012. So who had about 43% network coverage in 2012? Vodafone:

The Commerce Commission Telecommunications Monitoring Report 2012 showed that our market share by connections was 42% as at 30 June 2012.

And the NSA – our “allies” – pwns them. We’re basically the target of a programme of cyberwarfare by the United States, our supposed “allies”.

Which raises an obvious question: why isn’t the GCSB protecting us from this? It is, after all, their job. They should be helping to secure Vodafone’s network, not collaborating with the foreign hackers who want to exploit it.

That map also reveals an interesting fact: the NSA has compromised cellphone networks within all of its Five Eyes partners except Canada – and we are the most compromised of all. Which raises another question: if membership of Five Eyes doesn’t protect us from this, why are we a member?

16 comments on “NRT: The NSA pwns Vodafone”

  1. Sabine 1

    Becasue we are not supposed to be protected. We are the enemy. Welcome to the 4th Reich.

    If you have nothing to hide you have nothing to fear.

    • AmaKiwi 1.1

      Of course the main stream media makes no mention of The Intercept article.

      Pretty obvious who “us” and “them” is.

  2. Tracey 2

    we are a conduit not an ally

  3. tc 3

    Lets not forget the already existing ‘lawful intercept’ which forces all telcos to evesdrop based on a warrant.

    given our police and other agencies current behaviours that’s a concern also.

  4. Bill 4

    Y’know, sometimes it pays to read the linked article. It seems that NRT didn’t read it very carefully. Here’s relevant paragraphs in relation to all the Vodafone speculation. No need to marry up market share with claimed country penetration or coverage.

    One of the prime targets monitored under the AURORAGOLD program is the London-headquartered trade group, the GSM Association, or the GSMA, which represents the interests of more than 800 major cellphone, software, and internet companies from 220 countries.

    The GSMA’s members include U.S.-based companies such as Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, Microsoft, Facebook, Intel, Cisco, and Oracle, as well as large international firms including Sony, Nokia, Samsung, Ericsson, and Vodafone.

    The trade organization brings together its members for regular meetings at which new technologies and policies are discussed among various “working groups.” The Snowden files reveal that the NSA specifically targeted the GSMA’s working groups for surveillance.

  5. NZJester 5

    It is via their spybase inside NZ that they have that good access to our cellphones.
    Just wondering could the 43% actually be due to a type cell tower hardware used rater than a specific network like Vodafone?
    What was the 2G vs 3G network coverage at that time?

    • ghostwhowalksnz 5.1

      You havent read the full story.

      The access NSA has is EMail only. ( for this operation, there may be others we dont know about)

      Codenamed AURORAGOLD, the covert operation has monitored the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators, intercepting confidential company planning papers that help the NSA hack into phone networks.

      So AG operation is reading email messages probably for top technical people.

      The analysis of whom they are checking in NZ is probably correct ( Vodafone)

  6. Murray Rawshark 6

    The GCSB exists to help the NSA spy on us. Anything else it might do is totally incidental to that. It might be able to protect us from eavesdropping from Pitcairn Island, but that would be about all. The agents think of themselves as members of the Anglo alliance before anything else. Being Kiwis comes a distant second.

  7. Wairua 7

    An ancient sage once made the comment that

    ‘It is better to be inside the tent p****** out than outside the tent P****** in”.

    Admittedly, it was a simpler time ..

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