Edward Snowden’s name is in the news once again after he told a German newspaper that UK and US spy agencies have the ability to secretly access information from leading German telecoms companies.
A report in Der Spiegel details a programme called Treasure Map that gives GCHQ and the US National Security Agency [NSA] access to data that includes information from networks, personal computers and smartphones.
Snowden’s documents provide details of the project that involves carrying out eavesdropping on Deutsche Telekom, Netcologne, Stellar and Cetel, giving agencies access to data concerning the network structure and it uses routers to gain access to personal devices.
Der Spiegel called the Treasure Map programme “the Google Earth of the Internet” and claimed that the data collected could even be used to launch sophisticated cyber attacks.
The companies involved haven’t noticed evidence of external targeting of their networks and Deutsche Telekom’s IT security head Thomas Tschersich told the BBC, “the access of foreign secret services to our network would be totally unacceptable."
Snowden’s latest disclosure concerning Germany comes after a report in March revealed that the NSA and GCHQ collaborated to spy on 122 world leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
That followed reports in October 2013 that the NSA had hacked Merkel’s personal mobile phone and the ensuing fall out resulted in the European nation asking an American intelligence officer in Berlin to leave his post.
Germany even went as far as to consider creating its own Internet that is walled off from the rest of the world to prevent pilfering of data and state-backed Deutsche Telekom urged other companies to stop foreign intelligence services access local traffic.
Given that the state-backed company is one of those that has been infiltrated it is only likely to sour relations further between the intelligence agencies and Germany.