Edward Snowden NSA

NSA and GCHQ accused of hacking into mobile SIM cards


By John Glenday, Reporter

February 20, 2015 | 2 min read

American and British intelligence agencies have been thrust into the spotlight once again following reports that the NSA and GCHQ have hacked Gemalto, the world’s largest manufacturer of SIM cards.

The breach allegedly compromises the security of mobile phone users and is detailed in the latest tranche of documents to be published by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Intercept reported that this gave both governments the ‘potential to secretly monitor a large portion of the world’s cellular communications, including both voice and data.’

A Gemalto spokesperson said: “We take this publication very seriously and will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate and understand the scope of such highly sophisticated technique to try to obtain SIM card data. From what we gathered at this moment, the target was not Gemalto, per se - it was an attempt to try and cast the widest net possible to reach as many mobile phones as possible.

“There have been many reported state sponsored attacks as of late, that all have gained attention both in the media and amongst businesses, this truly emphasizes how serious cyber security is in this day and age.”

No less than 450 mobile providers make use of Gemalto’s cards, including Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, customers of which could have been monitored at whim if the agencies had indeed obtained encryption keys.

Edward Snowden NSA

More from Edward Snowden

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +