Skip to comments.Merkel reportedly gets NSA-proof phone with chip costing 2.5k euros
Posted on 06/27/2014 6:23:58 AM PDT by McGruff
German Chancellor Angela Merkel can finally hold phone talks with no fear of being tapped by foreign agents, as she now has a secure, German-upgraded Blackberry, Bild reports. Merkels contacts now need to install a 2,500 euro crypto-chip to talk to her.
While the German federal prosecutor is investigating the alleged tapping of the chancellors phone, exposed by former US National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, Merkel has been looking for ways to get her privacy back.
About a year after Snowdens leaks published by SPIEGEL, which stated the NSA was spying on some 500 million German communications every month, including up to 20 million telephone calls and 10 million internet data exchanges a day, German media reported that the countrys leader had ensured she is no longer on the snooping list.
According to Bild.de, Merkel has acquired a BlackBerry device with a crypto-chip developed by Dusseldorf-based company Secusmart. Choosing between a classic BlackBerry design and a touch screen variety, she reportedly picked the Q10 model with keyboard.
The Chancellor had to wait for a year for her new phone to be made, German media said.
The new phone was probably worth the wait, though: it encrypts all voice calls, as well as all internet communications and short messages within a government intranet, to which it is said to be connected via a highly secure VPN connection. Private calls can also be encrypted with Secusmart technology.
There is one catch, however: to establish a secure connection, the recipient of the call must also have a device with a crypto-chip. These dont come cheap, costing 2,500 euro (3,400 US dollars) each. Apparently, the entire German government will now have to stump up extra in the name of security.
Merkel is not the only world leader in the BlackBerry club ironically, US President Barack Obama is also a long-time BlackBerry fan. It is now unclear, however, which of the two have a more secure modification of the Canadian phone.
lol It does!
At least someone is stopping the spread of Police State America.
I’ll bet you the NSA designed the chip
... or paid for the keys and algorithms.
They actually don’t ‘pay’ for anything they get from vendors. They threaten, browbeat and coerce.
Since whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed the National Security Agencys bulk telephone collection program last year, the government has repeated a familiar mantra to ease the privacy concerns of Americans.
You have my telephone number connecting with your telephone number, President Barack Obama said in a PBS interview last June. There are no names, theres no content in that database.
As you know, this is just metadata, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, chairwoman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said at a news conference in June 2013. There is no content involved.
As the Presidents Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies has noted, the argument that the collection of bulk telephony meta-data does not seriously threaten individual privacy, because it involves only transactional information rather than the content of the communications. Indeed, this is a central argument in defense of the existing program.
Talk about a great product idea!
If the US can arrest foreigners in other countries for violating US law while in foreign countries, why can’t Germany (and everyone else) arrest US Gov’t operatives for crimes committed against them from US soil?
Our gov’t is beyond out of control.
She has avoided Obama like the plague. Apology not accepted!!
For example, let's do a rough calculation of the amount of metadata required to describe one phone call. Erring on the high side and allowing for international calling codes, we'll allow 16 digits each for the caller's number and the recipient's number. We'll also assume that the start and end times are both stored in full yyyy-mm-dd-hh:mm:ss format (instead of the more efficient option of storing start time and call length, with hh:mm:ss sufficing for the latter), and add two extra digits to each to round them up to 16. We'll also generously allow a full byte per digit (even though a byte has room for two decimal digits) -- so each call requires 64 bytes of metadata.
Now, we need to estimate the number of phone calls made in the world. This estimate of 12.4 billion calls per day seems reasonable (about two calls per person, including infants, deaf-mutes, people who live in isolated low-tech societies, etc).
So, the amount of phone metadata generated in one year is:
64 bytes/call * 12.4*10^9 calls/day * 365.25 days/year = 2.9*10^14 bytes/yearA two-terabyte drive costs about $100 (not factoring in bulk discounts) and is a bit larger than a deck of cards (I have one here; it measures about 3x10x14 cm, padded case included). A gross (144) of them suffices to store all the phone metadata generated worldwide in one year. This would cost less than $15K and fit in a largish footlocker.
Obviously, the NSA (which has humongous buildings dedicated to data storage) is sweeping up a lot more than that.
They need the metadata to facilitate finding any particular phone call in the sea of raw data they are storing.
2.5K EU later, it will still be “Was ist los?”
Who built the chip, Andrea?
she needs a cone of silence.
I want to believe the germans are smart enough the design and build that chip,,, but maybe not...
“I want to believe the germans are smart enough the design and build that chip,,, but maybe not...”
I remember reading a story about the CIA discovering that the Kremlin was buying some heavy, Mercedes-Benz limos through a front company. They entered the Daimler-Benz plant where the cars were being assembled (hand-built) and basically bugged the vehicles. They were hoping some big-wigs would be using the vehicles. Turned out that they were used by Brezhnev & Andropov.
Makes you wonder how many crypto developments aren’t penetrated by the NSA before the first chip is fabricated?
Actually, adding location data wouldn't boost the storage requirements all that much. If we allow eight bytes each for latitude and longitude (three digits, notwithstanding the fact that only logitude ever needs the third one, plus four more after the decimal point, plus a byte for storing the "N-S" or "E-W" flag, which is even more bloated than allocating a full byte per decimal digit as I've been doing), that just pumps up the requirement per call from 64 to 80 bytes -- increase the above storage requirements by 25% and it's covered.
The ultimate point, of course, is that they're clearly sweeping up call content (which does use quite a bit of storage even with efficient compression), not just "metadata", en masse.
Addendum: That amount of location data is sufficient to specify any point on earth to within about 100 meters. If you need to pin it down to 1 meter, add four more bytes (two more significant digits for each coordinate, with the same inefficient one-decimal-digit-per-byte coding I’ve been using to err on the high side) and increase the figures by 35% instead of 25%.
Amusing, but given the snake pit of Party-Army-KGB infighting that went on in behind-the-scenes Soviet politics the bugs may have proven even more useful than expected....
As memory serves, I recall a report by some Congressional committee from a few years ago that said the US intell infrastructure was generating in the neighborhood of 4 petabytes per month! (although that might have been per year, still a very large bucket ‘o bits).
Gah, that came out garbled. The idea is that who knows who else might have had the cars bugged as part of the operation.
Using wikipedia,, Germany has at least 11 fabs,, I believe they’ll be able to make what they need by themselves..
And all of that can be waved off as just metadata.
Betcha the BND will hear every syllable.
Still, 4T drives are common these days; that’s a 1000 (or 1024) of them.
When your budget is the NSA’s, even assuming multiple redundancies of the data store on RAID, several 1000 drives per month is nothing.
And people have some really neat answers for cheap storage these days. The BackBlaze Pod is up to V 4.0. $0.051 / GB.
I’m sure the government is using more expensive answers, but still, it shows what can be done.