In a report by The Intercept, the Glenn Greenwald-led site details the methods the NSA has used to stay ahead of encryption (encoding messages to keep them between the sender and receiver) that phone carriers have been trying to implement. You probably won't be surprised how the NSA managed to beat them: spying.
The agency had been monitoring people who've been tasked with setting up encryption standards to keep phone calls safe. In Operation Auroragold (the most 007-sounding name yet), the NSA watched over 1,200 inboxes of people associated with major cellphone network operators, such as the GSM Association in London. When details about new encryption proposals flowed through this network of emails, the NSA was able to gather information and start working on new ways to break the encryption before it was even made public. Karsten Nohl, a cellphone security expert and cryptographer, told The Intercept that the scope of data collected in Operation Auroragold is aimed to make sure almost every cellphone network in the world is NSA accessible. “Even if you love the NSA and you say you have nothing to hide, you should be against a policy that introduces security vulnerabilities,” she said, “because once NSA introduces a weakness, a vulnerability, it’s not only the NSA that can exploit it.”