MOSCOW, September 15 (RIA Novosti), Ekaterina Blinova - The NSA's "Treasure Map" project is aimed at conducting global cyber attacks and mapping the Internet in its entirety to include end users' devices, Der Spiegel has revealed.
"The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden... It instructs analysts to 'map the entire Internet – Any device, anywhere, all the time." the media outlet reports.
The report claims thatthe NSA's program allows the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" available to the US surveillance agency. "One can imagine it as a kind of Google Earth for global data traffic, a bird's eye view of the planet's digital arteries".
An examination of classified documents has indicated that the US surveillance service is keeping at least two German telecom providers, Deutsche Telekom AG and Netcologne, under close observation. Experts warn that in practice, the NSA has thus obtained access to more than 60 million German end users' devices including smartphones, tablets and desktops.
The disclosure has provoked deep concerns regarding the security of personal data held by telecom providers in Germany.
Furthermore, since Netcologne is a regional provider, it is most likely that the NSA has penetrated into its network "from within Germany," Der Spiegel notes. "That would be a clear violation of German law and potentially another NSA-related case for German public prosecutors."
In another twist, the British intelligence and security agency GCHG is also accused of gaining illegal access to Germans' personal data. Together, the Anglo-American surveillance agencies are said to have already successfully hacked several German companies, notably Stellar, Cetel and IABG, all satellite communication operators.
Stellar's CEO Christian Steffen reacted fiercely to the revelation. "A cyber attack of this kind clearly violates German law," he told Der Spiegel.
"I want to know why we were a target and exactly how the attack against us was conducted – if for no other reason than to be able to protect myself and my customers from this happening again," Steffen added.
It remains unclear why the NSA and GCHQ are conducting such an aggressive policy towards German telecom companies. Both surveillance agencies have declined to comment on the new revelations. Experts predict that these disclosures will further aggravate tensions between Berlin and Washington.