The NSA successfully cracked the encryption guarding the United Nations’ internal videoconferencing system, according to documents seen by Germany’s Der Spiegel.
The publication reported on Sunday that the encryption’s bypassing took place in the summer of 2012, and that within three weeks the NSA had boosted the number of such decrypted communications from 12 to 458.
According to the documents leaked by Edward Snowden, on one occasion when the Americans were breaking into UN communications, they discovered the Chinese had tried to do the same. The UN headquarters are sited in New York. Spying on the United Nations is illegal under international law.
Der Spiegel‘s report also followed on from earlier revelations about the NSA bugging EU institutions, explaining that the U.S. agency gained access to the virtual private network (VPN) used by the EU’s embassies in America.
It also claimed that the U.S. maintains a monitoring program called the “Special Collection Service” in over 80 embassies and consulates around the world, often without the knowledge of the host country.
In separate revelations on the weekend, the NSA admitted some agents had used the agency’s facilities to spy on their love interests. This allegedly only happened on a handful of occasions, but often enough to inspire the term “LOVEINT”. The Guardian reported that, in one case, an analyst had spied on his former spouse.
UPDATE (5am PT, Monday 26 August): Der Spiegel has now published an extensive English version of its scoop.