A Death in Athens: The inherent Vulnerability of “lawful Intercept” Programs. presented at DeepSec 2015

by James Bamford,

Summary : Mr. Bamford will discuss the “Athens Affair,” the subject of a recent investigation by him
in The Intercept. In 2004, the NSA and CIA worked secretly with the Greek
government to subvert Vodafone and other telecom companies in order to conduct
widespread eavesdropping during the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics. The NSA agreed,
however, to remove the spyware once the games were over. But rather than remove
it, they instead secretly turned it on the top members of the Greek government
and members of the Greek public, including journalists. When the covert
operation was accidentally discovered, however, a Vodafone engineer involved was
found dead, either by suicide or murder, and the death was officially connected
to the bugging operation. I will show how the operation was pulled off, buy
recruiting an inside person, then subverting the company’s “lawful intercept”
program, and transferring the data back to NSA headquarters at Fort Meade. The
episode demonstrates the enormous vulnerability of widespread “lawful intercept”
programs, and government backdoors in general, and also how the NSA often uses a
“bate and switch” in its operations – promising to help find terrorists, but
really spying on the host government and local population instead. This will be a PowerPoint presentation.