CIA Secretly Bought Company That Sold Encryption Devices Around the World, Then Sat Back and Listened

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Crypto Machine
Photo Courtesy of Michelle M.F. via Creative Commons License

A stunning report was just published in the Washington Post that points to one of the greats spying coups ever conducted.

From WWII on, one of the most-used companies in the world for the manufacture of encrypted coding machines was Crypto AG. 

What nobody knew, though, was that Crypto AG was actually owned by the CIA, a move that would allow the United States to spy on virtually every major country in the world.

Crypto AG

The company was a giant in the world of encryption devices for decades.

It first became a player in the industry during WWII, when it was contracted to build code-making machines for the United States.

It would parlay that contract to dominate the market.

The company is believed to have supplied encryption equipment for more than 120 countries, including some of our biggest allies and enemies both then and now.

What Nobody Knew

The fact that the CIA owned the company was kept secret, but so was another deal that was struck behind closed doors.

Per a classified agreement with West German Intelligence, the machines were rigged so both the CIA and the Germans could break the codes of any country using this equipment.

This enabled both countries unprecedented access to classified communication of enemies and allies alike.

The CIA report obtained by WaPo states, “It was the intelligence coup of the century.

“Foreign governments were paying good money to the U.S. and West Germany for the privilege of having their most secret communications read by at least two (and possibly as many as five or six) foreign countries.”

Unfortunately, two countries that never purchased equipment from this company were the Soviet Union and China.

This technology has become antiquated, however, and the company itself was dismembered in 2018.

When recently asked about his role in the intelligence coup, then Director of the NSA and Deputy Director of the CIA stated, “Do I have any qualms? Zero.

“It was a very valuable source of communications on significantly large parts of the world important to U.S. policymakers.”

An example of how important this intelligence coup was at the time when President Jimmy Carter was negotiating the Egyptian-Israeli peace negotiations in 1978.

After discussions, the CIA was able to monitor all communications Egyptian President Anwar Sadat had with Cairo, giving Carter a huge advantage.

Today, the company has been split in two, with CyOne selling exclusively to the Swiss Government, and Crypto International, which continues to use the brand and sell internationally.

Andreas Linde, the chairman of Crypto International, was never made aware of the role the CIA had in the company and seemed rather upset when he found out.

He stated, “We at Crypto International have never had any relationship with the CIA or BND — and please quote me.

“If what you are saying is true, then absolutely I feel betrayed, and my family feels betrayed, and I feel there will be a lot of employees who will feel betrayed as well as customers.”

Linde later stated that all new equipment being sold has been tested for vulnerabilities to ensure the spying that occurred under CIA ownership will no longer happen to Crypto International’s current customers.

As Linde tries to cut ties between his company and its previous owners, the CIA merely sits back and laughs, knowing it had arguably the greatest misdirect and spying operation in modern-day history.

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