The latest report, co-written by Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept from documents leaked by Edward Snowden, details how the National Security Agency (NSA) injects malware into computers and routers around the world and acts as Facebook to spy.
In a nutshell, through basic hackers-like practices, the controversial agency digs deep into millions of computers!
And this report, designed to creep out the most hardcore Internet champions, comes out on the heels of previous, equally scary, reports on Internet spying by the intelligence agency! For the uninitiated, over the past months, NSA’s TAO (Tailed Access Operations) division, which allegedly tracks only targeted terrorists, was uncovered.Its software and hardware implants into 100,000 PCs was made known and the British GCHQ agency was accused for teaming with the American agency to snoop on social networks.
This time, Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald have fleshed out granular details on how the NSA compromises the security of devices in mass. A program codenamed TURBINE and deployed in 2010, according to the documents, can seemingly execute “automated implants by groups instead of individually”. This means that the agency has massive resources to infect millions of devices at a time in its headquarters in Maryland and through its secret offices in Japan and the UK.
Additionally, TURBINE reportedly works hand in hand with another system called TURMOIL to break into computer networks on a global scale in order to track data traffic and spot new suspects.
Sometimes the National Security Agency (NSA) would just be disguised as a Facebook server to implement the malware in as quickly as eight seconds and vacuum up potentially sensitive information later. The program is known as QUANTUMHAND.
“In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyber-attacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites,” the authors of the report explained after going through the documents obtained by whistle-blower Edward Snowden.
Source: The Intercept, Gigaom, Geek o System, The Register