NSA uses secret radio tech to spy on offline computers
Wednesday 15 January 2014
…This technology uses a “covert channel of radio waves” that can be transmitted from circuit boards and USB cards planted in computers, the report said, citing leaked NSA documents and US officials.
Filling in some more details of the NSA surveillance programmes revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden in June 2013, the report said the transceivers must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user.
Once in place, the transceivers communicate with a briefcase-sized NSA field station, or hidden relay station, up to eight miles away.
The field station in turn communicates back to the NSA, and can also transmit malware to the target computer, including the kind used in attacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“What’s new here is the scale and the sophistication of the intelligence agency’s ability to get into computers and networks to which no one has ever had access before,” James Andrew Lewis, a cyber security expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told the NYT.
“Some of these capabilities have been around for a while, but the combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the US a window it’s never had before.”
The paper lists Chinese and Russian military, Mexican drug cartels, and trade institutions in the European Union, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan as targets of the surveillance programme code-named Quantum.
From Computer Weekly: NSA uses secret radio tech to spy on offline computers
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