NSA ‘Hacked Mexican Presidential Communications’

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

NSA hacked into email accounts of former Mexican president, fresh Snowden leaks show

The National Security Agency successfully hacked into the emails of the former Mexican president and other government staff, according to the latest leaks from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The operation was carried out by the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) team, which exploited a Mexican government mail server in 2010, according to a report in Der Spiegel.

Online surveillance © - Fotolia.comAccording to the leaked document, it was the “first-ever access to President Felipe Calderon’s public email account” and provided access to “diplomatic, economic and leadership communications”.

NSA hacking Mexico

It had previously been revealed that Enrique Peña Nieto, who is now president, was also tracked by the NSA in the lead up to the national election in 2012. In one exercise, 85,489 text messages were intercepted, some sent by Peña Nieto.

Relations between the two countries could be further tested following the leaks: hitherto President Calderon has worked closely with the US government on a number of issues, including drug crimes.

The leaks showed the US was particularly interested in learning more about the drug trade in Mexico. Another previously undisclosed campaign hacked the email of members of the Public Security Secretariat, which combats the drug trade, helping craft 260 classified reports to help US officials in their discussions.

“These TAO accesses into several Mexican government agencies are just the beginning – we intend to go much further against this important target,” one leaked document read.

There is now much tension between the US and South American governments. Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff cancelled a trip to America over spying allegations. A previous leak had suggested the NSA targeted “the communication methods and associated selectors of Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff and her key advisers”.

An NSA spokesperson told the German paper: “We’ve begun to review the way that we gather intelligence, so that we properly balance the legitimate security concerns of our citizens and allies with the privacy concerns that all people share.”

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