Op AURORAGOLD – NSA hacks cellphone networks worldwide

Pierluigi Paganini December 05, 2014

The Intercept revealed the Op AURORAGOLD run by the NSA to spy on hundreds of companies and organizations to hack cellphone networks worldwide.

The Intercept has uncovered details of the operation AURORAGOLD, another massive surveillance program operated by the US Intelligence . The new program is ambitious, the NSA has developed AURORAGOLD with the intent to spy on every cellphone network in the world. The AURORAGOLD operation is mentioned in one of the archive disclosed by Edward Snowden, which revealed that the NSA intercepted thousands of emails sent between companies in a bid to identify security weaknesses in cellphone technology.

Operation AURORAGOLD allowed the NSA to monitor the content of messages sent and received by more than 1,200 email accounts associated with major cellphone network operators. The government Agency has intercepted with this tactic confidential company planning papers that help the it hacking into phone networks.

“According to documents contained in the archive of material provided toThe Intercept by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the NSA has spied on hundreds of companies and organizations internationally, including in countries closely allied to the United States, in an effort to find security weaknesses in cellphone technology that it can exploit for surveillance.”


Further documents reveal that the US Intelligence plans to secretly introduce new flaws in communication systems so that they can monitor communications. The experts at The Intercept criticized the aggressive approach of the NSA that could expose the population to further attack run by criminal crews and state-sponsored hackers.

“The documents also reveal how the NSA plans to secretly introduce new flaws into communication systems so that they can be tapped into—a controversial tactic that security experts say could be exposing the general population to criminal hackers. 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.” continues the post.

The popular cyber security expert and cryptographer Karsten Nohl after the analysis of the documents reporting the AURORAGOLD operation confirmed that the broad scope of a program that aims at ensuring every cellphone network in the world is accessible by the NSA.

“Collecting an inventory [like this] on world networks has big ramifications,” Nohl  said.”Even if you love the NSA and you say you have nothing to hide, you should be against a policy that introduces security vulnerabilities, because once NSA introduces a weakness, a vulnerability, it’s not only the NSA that can exploit it.”

The GSM Association is named in the report as one of the more high-profile victims of the AURORAGOLD program, but as reported on the map below the surveillance is widespread in the mobile networks of several countries.

“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.”


NSA spokeswoman Vanee’ Vines commented to the revelation made by The Intercept in a statement:

[the agency] “works to identify and report on the communications of valid foreign targets” Vines said, confirming the intent to prevent threats to the United States and its allies.

“NSA collects only those communications that it is authorized by law to collect in response to valid foreign intelligence and counterintelligence requirements—regardless of the technical means used by foreign targets, or the means by which those targets attempt to hide their communications.”

Let me suggest reading the report.

Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  The Intercept, NSA, AURORAGOLD)

you might also like

leave a comment