From planting agents in video games like World of Warcraft to a spy satellite adorned with a world-devouring, tentacled octopus the NSA has shown time and again that it’s willing to go to just about any length to gather intelligence on both domestic and foreign citizens.
The latest report, via Der Spiegel and based on internal NSA documents, reveals that the NSA, in conjunction with the CIA and FBI, has begun intercepting laptops purchased online in order to install spyware and even hardware on the machines. The NSA terms this “interdiction.” Agents divert shipments to secret warehouses, carefully open the packages, install the software and/or hardware, and send them on their way.
The spy agency reportedly has backdoor access to numerous hardware and software systems from prominent tech companies such as Cisco, Dell, and Western Digital, among others. The NSA can even exploit Microsoft Windows error reports to find weak spots in compromised machines in order to install Trojans and other viruses.
As the below giant octopus logo proudly proclaims: “Nothing is beyond our reach.” Lately it appears that this is not so much boasting as a simple statement of fact.
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Even crazier still, the NSA is apparently installing radios into computers, to spy into them even when they are not connected to the Net.
The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet, according to N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.
The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
The radio frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack. In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user.
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Thanks to OGer for the find!