U.S. NSA devises radio pathway into computers to conduct surveillance, launch cyberattacks

“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,” David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker report for The New York Times. “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,” Sanger and Shanker report. “In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.”

“In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user,” Sanger and Shanker report. “There is no evidence that the N.S.A. has implanted its software or used its radio frequency technology inside the United States. Over the past two months, parts of the program have been disclosed in documents from the trove leaked by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor. A Dutch newspaper published the map of areas where the United States has inserted spy software, sometimes in cooperation with local authorities, often covertly. Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine, published the N.S.A.’s catalog of hardware products that can secretly transmit and receive digital signals from computers, a program called ANT. The New York Times withheld some of those details, at the request of American intelligence officials, when it reported, in the summer of 2012, on American cyberattacks on Iran.”

“President Obama is scheduled to announce on Friday what recommendations he is accepting from an advisory panel on changing N.S.A. practices,” Sanger and Shanker report. “Computers are not the only targets. Dropoutjeep attacks iPhones. Other hardware and software are designed to infect large network servers, including those made by the Chinese. Most of those code names and products are now at least five years old, and they have been updated, some experts say, to make the United States less dependent on physically getting hardware into adversaries’ computer systems.”

Tons more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

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28 Comments

    1. Oh yes!

      It’s also interesting, from a techy perspective, to pull the entire picture puzzle together. Anyone not familiar with computer hardware, software and security thinks something ‘spook’y is going on. But it’s straightforward if you know all the bits and pieces involved. (I won’t go into blether mode describing them here).

  1. The ability to scan a hard drive remotely via UHF microwave radar has been around for some time(early 90’s). The higher the aerial density of the disk surface, the higher the frequency needed. However, a spinning hard drive still eludes the best efforts of the wiliest of snoops! So keep your computers turned on and disable hard drive sleep modes! Flash drive users – sorry – the NSA knows everything as you type it in! Conspiracies everywhere! Flee, flee for your lives!

  2. wouldn’t it be easier for government to spend its energy trying to understand and counter the ideology of all those modern-day anachronistic desert-prophet god-appointed walking, talking explosive vest nuts than put radio software in my box of panty liners. if those idiots can be convinced that poisoning school kids in afghanistan or annihilating beautiful people is making god happy then maybe government can find a way to reverse engineer some of that neural sandstorm and build a little education where before there was none.

    here’s a little note to my usa government: get out of my head and out of my vagina and stay the fsck out and for the love of our constitutional heritage, quit wasting our hard-earned money before us, the people, start public punishment floggings and public hanging of congressmen on the steps of our capital. OUR capital.

    1. I agree with you on many of your points, but the national government isn’t in your vagina. It’s state legislatures and Governors who are the problem, supported by the ultra-right Tea Party fascists. As Citizens and voters, we really do need to pay attention to every election.

      1. if you’re talking about the far right, then fine, they’re extreme …just about as extreme as the far left is extreme, but, the tea party isn’t fascist, they’re not far right …they’re just conservatives who have a respect for the constitution and for fiscal responsibility.

        both major parties have chained us to huge unfunded liabilities and massive debt. they both need to be diminished and replaced by people who don’t have tumorous pituitaries and massive egos that need to re-engineer in their own image and rule a free people who, year after year and politician after politician, are less free than they’ve ever been.

        i really think your view of tea party activists is seriously skewed.

        1. To that I can only say “follow the money”. Just as the John Birch Society was funded by Fred Koch, father of the infamous Koch brothers, they fund the Tea Party. Although a large amount of effort has gone into astro-trufing their involvement and conservatives on the Supreme Court have supported that secrecy, their fingerprints keep turning up.

          I believe there are some well meaning individuals who think they support the goals of the Tea Party and are involved on that basis. I think they have no clue as to the true identities and goals of their puppet masters.

          The Tea Party backed politicians who have managed to slither their way into Congress and the various State Legislatures have shown little integrity of willingness to engage in governance for the good of the country (we the people). They have a narrow, ideological agenda that they are willing to sink the country to achieve. That’s pretty much fascist behavior in my book.

      1. You are in rare company with that name. I tried for years to get the red presidential phone ring as a ringtone. Finally succeeded. Doesn’t take much to make me happy sometimes. The ringtone and some new Mac Pros and I’m a pretty happy guy.

  3. It should not come as a surprise really to see that this is more than a spy game, because everyone darn well knows that when it comes to massacres of innocent civilians and war the United Hates just can’t resist it. One should not expect anything less from a country who’s birth and economic existence is based on warism.

    They have raised a white flag and who cares? Pretty well everyone from a civilized country. Heck even the Nazis recognized the white flag. Not the U.S. though, they just have to have their addictive appetite for blood satisfied. Now of course this continued to the modern times, the list of countries that have used radioactive weapons of mass destruction on innocent civilian populations is quite small, in fact I can only think of one. I won’t tell you who it is, but I’ll give you their initials…U….S….

    Now to the article itself, where very unsurprisingly we find out about the potential of the spy technology to conduct cyber attacks and that the Chinese are doing it, along with the Russians and hey, did someone mention the word “attack”? You have to make sure your invite one guest to the war, they may be late to the party but you can count on them being there. I won’t tell you who it is but I’ll give you their initials…U….S….

    I love this attempt to regain the moral high ground, something that fell and burned to the ground quicker than the twin towers.

    “The N.S.A. calls its efforts more an act of “active defense” against foreign cyberattacks than a tool to go on the offensive. ”

    Hey we’ll buy that, it makes sense, after all they are supposed to be the good guys. That’s what the propaganda machine says.

    It makes sense to build on what you’ve got and there is a history of America doing the right thing, statements like: “We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies of- or give intelligence we collect to – U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.” and “it is more important that we defend ourselves than that we attack others.” sure make it sound like the moral and ethical high ground is in sight and that the good ole U. S. of A. knows how to get there.

    That goes right down the toilet however when it becomes known that the US conducts a cyber attack on the Iranians, using malware to blow up centrifuges.

    Looks like the white man is still talking with forked tongue, saying one thing and doing the other.

    The cyberwar era is here, count on the United Hates government to find it irresistible to join in, unless of course “they the people” take a good hard look at their constitution and find out that it really does have a value worth preserving and make the effort to see that those words are really worth more than just being printed on toilet paper.

      1. I would not know, I live on the free world, but I’ll take your word for it that living here is way way better than living in some terrorist states, like the US, Russia, China or one of those suicide bomber nations.

      2. Oh wait, silly me, I almost forgot, living in a terrorist state like the US, North Korea, China and the rest is way way way way better than having to live on that putrid Anustralian island.

        I guess I’m just so happy that their vile repugnant culture is being eliminated from the face of the earth one Ho Ho Holden at a time.

        Thanks again Santa Claus.

  4. The problem with reform government surveillance is that they have no objection to corporations stalking you for profit. They only object to government spying as it is costing them business.

    1. “they have no objection to corporations stalking you for profit”

      Or killing you for profit. The number of Americans killed by the corporate uber-rich every year makes the terrorists look like a bunch of Sunday School picnickers dancing around in the park. Shit, the tobacco industry ALONE trivializes the results of all terrorist attacks worldwide.

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