AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Gemalto, the world's largest SIM card manufacturer, is investigating a claim that U.S. and British spies stole encryption keys that allow them to snoop on cellphone communications.
The company, which produces some two billion SIM cards a year, said it is looking into claims that the National Security Agency and its British counterpart Government Communications Headquarters stole encryption keys that allow them to secretly monitor data and phone calls.
Gemalto officials said the company has "detected, logged and mitigated many types of attempts over the years. At present we cannot prove a link between those past attempts and what was reported yesterday." Officials said the company had no prior knowledge of the alleged theft and can not verify Snowden's information.
"We take this publication very seriously and will devote all resources necessary to fully investigate and understand the scope of such sophisticated techniques," the company said in a written statement. Gemalto operates in 85 countries and has more than 40 manufacturing facilities, with clients that include AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint.
The Intercept report said the stolen encryption keys allow intelligence agencies to monitor mobile communications without permission from cellphone carriers and foreign governments. The report also said the NSA and GCHQ created the Mobile Handset Exploitation Team in April 2010 to target vulnerabilities in cellphones.
"One of its main missions was to covertly penetrate computer networks of corporations that manufacture SIM cards, as well as those of wireless network providers," The Intercept wrote.