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Anonymous engineers claim BT gives spies backdoors to customer data

Coincidence? Bruce Schneier -- outspoken opponent of NSA mass surveillance -- leaving British Telecom

By , Network World
December 16, 2013 03:58 PM ET

Network World - Carrier BT provides the British intelligence agency GCHQ and its American counterpart the NSA with direct access to customer data through the Internet modems it supplies, claims a 50-page document posted anonymously on the Cryptome site today.

The document, titled “Full  Disclosure: The Internet Dark Age,” was originally post on Dec. 4 and reposted with updates a few days later. Its anonymous authors, calling themselves “The Adversaries,” say they are engineers in a business that supplies small office and home office networking in the United Kingdom. The document they posted goes into extensive detail about their claim that modems supplied by BT have secret backdoors that can be used both to send outgoing customer data directly to the U.K. and NSA intelligence agencies, or even to give surveillance agencies a means to attack, should that be required.

+ Also on Network World: Slideshow of NSA’s weird alphabet soup of secret spy programs and hacker tools | Debate rages: Should the NSA be reformed? +

BT spokesperson Kris Kozamchak, head of corporate relations for BT Global Services, would not comment on the contents of the document, but simply stated: “We comply with the law wherever we operate and do not disclose customer data in any jurisdiction unless legally required to do so.”

SCHNEIER DEPARTS BT

Also on the security front at BT, Bruce Schneier, who has held the post of “security futurologist” at the company for about eight years, is leaving the telco at the end of December, according to a spokesman. Since the disclosures in June about the National Security Agency related to documents leaked to the media by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Schneier has been an outspoken opponent of the type of mass surveillance, backdoors and encryption weakening alleged to be done by the agency and its partners, which include GCHQ. Schneier’s commentary about the NSA appeared frequently online.

Schneier says, “Contrary to rumor, it has nothing to do with the NSA.  No, they weren't happy with me, but they knew that I am an independent thinker and they didn't try to muzzle me in any way.  It's just time.  I spent seven years at BT, and seven years at Counterpane Internet Security, Inc before BT bought us.  It's past time for something new.”

Schneier adds he doubts that the “Full Disclosure” report that was posted online with its assertions about BT is real.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: MessmerE. E-mail: emessmer@nww.com

Read more about security in Network World's Security section.

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