• Germany's news in English

Germany can't crack 'CIA double agent' laptop

Tom Barfield · 16 Sep 2014, 08:31

Published: 16 Sep 2014 08:31 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Der Spiegel reports that Attorney General Harald Range gave the German Parliament's NSA investigation committee the bad news last week.

Security experts from the Criminal Police (BKA) and secret services are trying to find out whether the intelligence officer at the Federal Secret Service (BND), named as Markus R., sent any more classified material to the US spy agency than they already know about.

The Federal Information Security Office (BSI) would not comment on the case when contacted by The Local.

After he was arrested while working for Germany's foreign security agency, Markus R. explained to the security services how he communicated with his handlers.

When he checked the weather in New York using a specially-installed app on his laptop, a secure communication line to his second employers, the CIA, would open up.

However, the BND information security specialists have so far been unable to crack the password on the laptop – and Markus has refused to give it up.

Computer security expert Professor Jochen Schiller of the Freie Universität Berlin told The Local it wasn't surprising that the authorities had problems decrypting the computer.

“As a normal citizen... many of the commercially available [encryption programs] simply have weak spots, so that a secret service can get in anyway,” he said.

“On the other side, there are encryption techniques with which you can lock up your data and it's mathematically proven they can't be cracked so easily.”

“No NSA or BKA or anyone else can get inside," he added.

Investigators found a USB stick containing 201 documents which Markus R. allegedly passed to the American spy agency.

Story continues below…

The case is one of the two which led to Germany expelling an American intelligence officer earlier this year.

The CIA station chief at the US embassy in Berlin left in July as public and political anger grew at the supposed ally's infiltration of the German security services.

SEE ALSO: US, UK spies 'can access German telecom network'

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Tom Barfield (tom.barfield@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Germans think they're fit, but they're really couch potatoes
Photo: DPA.

There's been an increase in the number of Germans who define themselves as "fit", but their lifestyle choices don't quite match this self-perception.

10 fascinating facts you never knew about German beer
Tennis coach Boris Becker and his wife Lilly at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich. Photo: DPA

From malt and monks to Radlers and rivalries, the story of German beer is as rich and wonderful as its selection.

Intensive farming 'endangers a third of German species'
Photo: DPA

There are 32,000 species of animal, plant and mushroom life native to Germany. Due to intensive farming methods, one in every three of these is endangered, a new report shows.

German hospital uses therapy to 'treat' paedophiles
A poster from the campaigne "Don't offend", which offers therapy to paedophiles. The sign reads "Do you love kids more than you'd prefer? There's help." Photo: DB Scholz & Friends / DPA.

A unique German initiative is offering therapy to paedophiles to control their urges, with the aim of getting them help before they offend.

Minister: 'no tolerance' for clowns after chainsaw attack
Photo: DPA

Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has called for a zero-tolerance approach to 'killer clowns' after a series of attacks culminating in two teenagers being chased by a clown wielding a chainsaw.

Baby who was auctioned on eBay taken away from father
Photo: DPA.

A German court ruled on Thursday that a man who put his one-month-old baby up for sale on the online auction platform eBay should only be allowed contact with the child under supervision.

Portugal's ruling party calls German minister 'pyromaniac'
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Photo: DPA.

The head of Portugal's ruling Socialists called German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble a "pyromaniac" on Thursday after he criticized Lisbon for reversing course on austerity.

These are Germany's top ten universities
The new library of Freiburg University. Photo: Jörgens.mi / Wikimedia Commons

These are the best universities in all of Germany - at least according to one ranking.

Introducing Swabians - 'the Scots of Germany'
Photo: DPA

These Southern Germans have quite a reputation in the rest of the country.

Woman sues dentist over job rejection for headscarf
Photo: DPA

A dentist in Stuttgart is being taken to court by a woman whom he rejected for a job as his assistant on the basis that she wears a Muslim headscarf.

10 German clichés that foreigners get very wrong
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
10 ways German completely messes up your English
Germany's 10 most weird and wonderful landmarks
10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd