The Swiss cryptography firm Crypto AG sold equipment to governments and militaries around the world for decades after World War II. They were owned by the CIA:
But what none of its customers ever knew was that Crypto AG was secretly owned by the CIA in a highly classified partnership with West German intelligence. These spy agencies rigged the company’s devices so they could easily break the codes that countries used to send encrypted messages.
This isn’t really news. We have long known that Crypto AG was backdooring crypto equipment for the Americans. What is new is the formerly classified documents describing the details:
The decades-long arrangement, among the most closely guarded secrets of the Cold War, is laid bare in a classified, comprehensive CIA history of the operation obtained by The Washington Post and ZDF, a German public broadcaster, in a joint reporting project.
The account identifies the CIA officers who ran the program and the company executives entrusted to execute it. It traces the origin of the venture as well as the internal conflicts that nearly derailed it. It describes how the United States and its allies exploited other nations’ gullibility for years, taking their money and stealing their secrets.
The operation, known first by the code name “Thesaurus” and later “Rubicon,” ranks among the most audacious in CIA history.
EDITED TO ADD: More news articles. And a 1995 story on this. It’s not new news.