Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed retaliation against Friday's US/EU sanctions against Moscow, targeting Russia's big oil players like Gazprom. Shifty ol' Vlad, the former GRU intelligence chief, has followed up on this threat and played the card he's gone back to time and time again on Monday: Edward Snowden's hoard of NSA documents.
Deutsche Telekom said it had found no indication that the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) and Britain's GCHQ had obtained access to its computer network, but said it was investigating the matter following a report in Sunday's Der Spiegel magazine.
"We are looking into every indication of possible manipulations but have not yet found any hint of that in our investigations so far," a Telekom spokesman said in a statement on Sunday. "We're working closely with IT specialists and have also contacted German security authorities.
"It would be completely unacceptable if a foreign intelligence agency were to gain access to our network," the spokesman added.
Der Spiegel said it had seen information suggesting the NSA and GCHQ had gained access to the networks of Deutsche Telekom and smaller German provider Netcologne.
That Der Speigel report credits Snowden's latest "revelation" that the NSA is working with its counterparts in the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand to "map all devices on the internet".
When it comes to choosing code names for their secret operations, American and British agents demonstrate a flare for creativity. Sometimes they borrow from Mother Nature, with monikers such as "Evil Olive" and "Egoistic Giraffe." Other times, they would seem to take their guidance from Hollywood. A program called Treasure Map even has its own logo, a skull superimposed onto a compass, the eye holes glowing in demonic red, reminiscent of a movie poster for the popular "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, starring Johnny Depp. Treasure Map is anything but harmless entertainment. Rather, it is the mandate for a massive raid on the digital world. It aims to map the Internet, and not just the large traffic channels, such as telecommunications cables. It also seeks to identify the devices across which our data flows, so-called routers.
Furthermore, every single end device that is connected to the Internet somewhere in the world -- every smartphone, tablet and computer -- is to be made visible. Such a map doesn't just reveal one treasure. There are millions of them.
The breathtaking mission is described in a Treasure Map presentation from the documents of the former intelligence service employee Edward Snowden which SPIEGEL has seen. It instructs analysts to "map the entire Internet -- Any device, anywhere, all the time."
Treasure Map allows for the creation of an "interactive map of the global Internet" in "near real-time," the document notes. Employees of the so-called "FiveEyes" intelligence agencies from Great Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, which cooperate closely with the American agency NSA, can install and use the program on their own computers. 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.
If you wanted to drive a huge wedge between the US and the EU, this is exactly how to do it: a breathless report that states that Germany's biggest telecom has been hacked by the US and UK to MAP EVERY SINGLE DEVICE ON THE INTERNET EVER. The Germans, I'm sure, are pissed. What better way to break up sanctions than by getting the countries leveling them against you to turn on each other? There doesn't have to be proof of course, but anyone who thinks this report dropping now is a coincidence doesn't know how this game is played at all.
I have to hand it to Putin, when the man promises retaliation, he follows through...and just a few days before the Scottish independence vote in the UK, too.
Well played in return, Mr. Putin.