Report: U.S. NSA intercepts computers during shipping to install surveillance malware

“The NSA’s TAO hacking unit is considered to be the intelligence agency’s top secret weapon. It maintains its own covert network, infiltrates computers around the world and even intercepts shipping deliveries to plant back doors in electronics ordered by those it is targeting,” SPIEGEL reports. “One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years — the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. This is the NSA’s top operative unit — something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked. An internal description of TAO’s responsibilities makes clear that aggressive attacks are an explicit part of the unit’s tasks. In other words, the NSA’s hackers have been given a government mandate for their work.”

“Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry’s BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted,” SPIEGEL reports. “One example of the sheer creativity with which the TAO spies approach their work can be seen in a hacking method they use that exploits the error-proneness of Microsoft’s Windows. Every user of the operating system is familiar with the annoying window that occasionally pops up on screen when an internal problem is detected, an automatic message that prompts the user to report the bug to the manufacturer and to restart the program. These crash reports offer TAO specialists a welcome opportunity to spy on computers.”

“According to details in Washington’s current budget plan for the US intelligence services, around 85,000 computers worldwide are projected to be infiltrated by the NSA specialists by the end of this year. By far the majority of these “implants” are conducted by TAO teams via the Internet,” SPIEGEL reports. “Sometimes it appears that the world’s most modern spies are just as reliant on conventional methods of reconnaissance as their predecessors. Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called ‘load stations,’ agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer. These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the “most productive operations” conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Insidious. How deep does it go?

United States Constitution, Amendment IV:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. – Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

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    1. let us recall the observation of sinclair lewis who wrote that “when fascism comes to america it will be wrapped in the american flag and carrying a cross”

      mighty impressive (and oppressive) capabilities the government has these days.

      makes me wonder why they never seem to apply them to prosecute the banksters ?

        1. ever thought about reading a little history, in your spare time ?

          or maybe going to school?

          fascism and communism are pretty much at opposite poles on the political spectrum, can’t really be both at the same time. hitler and mussolini the premier fascists of our age both invaded russia with the intent from tearing down the hammer and sickle.

          they do have a couple of traits in common though, when it comes to tyranny, oppression of civil rights and concentration of wealth and power into the hands of a self selected elite.

        2. Wrong. Both are totalitarian systems where the goons run everything. There are theoretical differences about who owns what but they are theoretical since the dictators decide who lives, who dies, who is in prison, etc. Hitler was a National Socialist. Lenin was a socialist socialist. Same system. It is called tyranny. It is what Obama is implementing here. Now, time for you to actually start engaging your brain and stop being a mind controlled droid who is voting for the tyrant. You are a ignoramus as far as history and politics is concerned.

        1. NBC is far from liberal. Even before the Comcast buyout; the company that made you pay for MSNBC, but Fox News was free. NBC was part of GE; builders of nuke power plants, military jet engines, and paid almost no taxes. Listen to some real liberal news, you have really hunt for it. Real liberals are even more PO.

      1. Documented Fact:

        Fixed it for you… These spying programs ‘expanded’ under the Bush/Cheney post 9/11 Homeland Security panic.


        Don’t think ‘spying’ on Americans or anybody else first started under Bush as you implied with that “spying programs all started” phraseology!

        And apparently, these spying programs certainly haven’t abated or diminished under the Democratic Obama/Biden tenure…

        In fact, like all government agencies, I bet budgets have increased and even more offices created and ‘scope of mission’ ballooned.

      1. True. But, entry and maxed out products are inventoried and sold at the Apple Store. Yes, several long term employees know me. However, most don’t and the identity of the customer isn’t known until the product is already in the customer’s hands. The only way around this blind purchase is to infect all products. I avoid buying infested products buy owning Apple products for decades now. I don’t buy that Windows infested crap.

        However, iBeacon may change this blind purchase. Maybe we have to shut down or leave the iOS products in the car or with a friend at the other side of the store.

        1. There are some larger store configs but they are not the true “maxed out” versions that are available in custom configs. Thise are only available as custom orders.

        1. “First they came for the Communists,
          and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist.
          Then they came for the Socialists,
          and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Socialist.
          Then they came for the trade unionists,
          and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
          Then they came for me,
          and there was no one left to speak for me.” by pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) about the cowardice of German intellectuals following the Nazis’ rise to power and the subsequent purging of their chosen targets, group after group.

        2. I want a right to privacy. You would be happy in Nazi-Germany, KGB-Soviet Union, North Korea, or anywhere a person had no right to his space and where fear justified political excess in all those regimes. I’m guessing that because of your apathy towards the country’s practical loss of the 4th amendment. This data collection in the 1.5 million square feet mega-complex in Utah will be used against anyone who speaks out against Big Money. Chevron serves a a model to that, by getting the judicial system which is a rubber stamp for Big Money, as is our whole government, to give Chevron access to internet and phone data of legal opponents,

        3. Everyone talks about rights but rarely mention responsibilities. Rights and responsibilities must always be mentioned in the same breath as they are intrinsically intertwined. Anarchy is completely ‘rights’ driven and does not even consider responsibilities. It is complete selfishness and does not value ‘society’. Think about this before donning a tin foil hat.

  1. MDN is a tiny little partisan voice for a singular company hence have no voice whatsoever. These Blogs are nothing more than a Love In for fans of the products that the Blog praises.

    Apple is not immune and frankly could even be a bigger target based on the demographic that uses OSX and iOS.

  2. Hmm.. yet, never once from 2000-2008 did Macdailynews write up their fury over the NSA spying as we passed the patriot act, kept electing the people who enabled exactly this abandonment of the constitution.. curious, eh?

    Do a Google search. I did. Not one time was Macdailynews up in arms over the constitution when the law that is actually the problem was passed. In fact, over and over for those eight years of darkness when the only people speaking of the constitution were liberals and the ACLU (in the words of the GOP, terrorist-lovers).

    Welcome to the democratic side of caring about government surveillance, macdailynews. Perhaps we can arrange a hunting trip with Dick Cheney for you two to discuss it at length?

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