NSA hacked chip, SIM manufacturer Gemalto: report

SIM card (Picture: Flickr/Roman Soto). (SIM card (Picture: Flickr/Roman Soto))

The Netherlands-based chip maker Gemalto has been hacked by the United States secret service NSA and the British GCHQ, De Telegraaf reports. This is according to a report by The Intercept based on documents received by NSA whistle blower Edward Snowden.

Gemalto makes chips for mobile phones and credit cards and with about 2 million SIM cards, is the largest SIM card producer in the world. The French company has an office on Zuidas and is listed on the Amsterdam stock exchange. The company has several prominent clients, including financial institutions and governments, such as the Dutch government, KPN, ABN Amro, Vodafone, T-Mobile and ING.

The NSA and GCHQ broke into Gemalto's internal computer in 2010 already. The stolen data enables the secret services to keep track of mobile communications without the permission of telecom providers and foreign governments. This type of data collection aso leaves no trace at the providers.

Gemalto announced in a statement that the company is taking The Intercept's report very seriously and will get to the bottom of the hack. "In what we now know the purpose of the hack was not Gemalto, instead the hackers were looking for the most effective way to break in to obtain as much data from mobile phones as possible."

According to De Telegraaf, D66 Parliamentarian Gerard Schouw has demanded that Minister Ronald Plaster of Internal Affairs get clarification on the matter. "It can not be that on one side we work together with foreign security services, but at the same time they digitally spy illegally and without permission in the Netherlands. Plasterk must clear this up as soon as possible. What is going on here?" the MP said.