A newly uncovered document from the US National Security Agency reveals that US intelligence has been in regular contact with Zolesa satellite communications company for years.
The document, obtained by The Intercept, reveals that the CIA’s cyberwarfare department, the Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, had a covert relationship with the company from at least 2009.
Zolesa is a Russian company that specializes in developing satellite communications systems and software that allow the government to spy on targets worldwide.
Its work, according to a 2009 US Senate report, was designed to enable the NSA to use “electronic eavesdropping techniques” to eavesdrop on international communications and to collect data on the communication of foreign governments.
It was also tasked with helping the NSA “develop and deploy new systems to help with its cyberspace operations, including communications infrastructure and software development and deployment,” the Senate report said.
In 2009, the NSA reportedly hired Zolesabot to develop a new communications infrastructure that would allow it to spy through “an electromagnetic link.”
The documents from the CIA were dated December 2012 and March 2013, and were obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is suing the NSA.
“We have a very strong belief that Zolesubot was created to be an NSA ‘digital espionage unit’ that would use the capability of its equipment to conduct electronic surveillance, including cyber surveillance,” EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn said in a statement.
“The NSA’s cyber espionage program has been plagued by mismanagement, fraud, and other serious breaches.
This document gives us new information about how the CIA has been working with Zolseo to build and deploy surveillance capabilities.”
The Intercept reported that the agency has been conducting “unprecedented surveillance” of Zolesia’s satellite communications infrastructure since 2013.
The agency’s surveillance activities are detailed in a September 2014 NSA inspector general’s report, which found that the company had failed to keep its satellites up-to-date with government-required satellite equipment and that it failed to provide “appropriate oversight” to its staff and its contractors.
The NSA also reported that Zoleos communications were monitored by a group of CIA operatives who were known to be working with the agency.
The Intercept noted that the spy agency has also been monitoring the communications of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The report, published on Wednesday, said that Zolsea’s satellites were capable of receiving and transmitting data through “electromagnetic links” that were not shielded by shielding.
The Intercept noted:”The electromagnetic link can be used to access the satellite and thus the satellite could be detected and tracked from the satellite itself.”