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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

1/15/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Old school technology allows sophisticated monitoring.

The National Security Agency has planted hardware and software into some 100,000 computers around the world, permitting it to tap into those systems to monitor activity and upload malware. The agency can also stage sophisticated cyber attacks using the inroads created by these compromised systems.

A compromised USB cable is all the NSA needs. No internet is required to monitor you.

A compromised USB cable is all the NSA needs. No internet is required to monitor you.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

1/15/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: NSA, radio, 100, 000, spying, targets, agency, China, USB, transceiver


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Every revelation seems to add a chapter to a tale of an agency drunk with its own power and fueled by unbridled talent. Documents that are slowly being published after being leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, shows that the agency has operated with abandon.

In the latest revelation, the NSA has developed devices which can be implanted into, or plugged into computers, and communicates by radio with another computer up to eight miles away. That other computer can be carried in a briefcase and operated by an NSA agent who can use his access to manipulate the infected computer, uploading malware, monitoring its use, staging cyber attacks and more. The infected computer doesn't even need to be attached to the internet.

The devices are small and can fit inside the plug of a USB cable or can be placed inside a computer during manufacture. The primary idea is that the user of the compromised system has no idea they're being monitored. Even as users may keep the system unplugged from the internet, they're still transmitting data to the NSA.

As a spy tool, it's an incredible system. However, as a tool of mass surveillance and attack, it's frightening. According to the leaked documents, the NSA has installed these devices on over 100,000 computers. There just aren't that many terrorists in the world.

So far, all indications appear that these compromised computers are overseas. None are known to exist in the United States where such surveillance would be illegal. Despite this, the lack of trust in the government and the NSA probably has people worried.

Short of dismantling every component in a system, there's really no way of telling for sure.

Documents indicate that the U.S. has been monitoring more than terrorists. The Chinese Army has been a prominent target, or so it appears. Notably, China has been notorious for trying to steal U.S. secrets, particularly intellectual property, and when such efforts have been revealed the U.S. government has lashed out at China from the White House, no less. Now we learn that we are playing the same game as the Chinese.

The documents also suggest the technology has been used to hack Russian military networks, networks in the European Union, and Mexican drug cartel networks. We have also spied on our partners in the War of Terror, including Saudi Arabia, India, and Pakistan.

Much of the information in the documents appears to be dated, perhaps as far back as 2008. This implies that the NSA has probably evolved beyond these systems to even more sophisticated methods of spying. In any case, the agency continues its work, content to answer only to itself and its own secret court for guidance.

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