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TMCNet:  NSA taps offline computers with secret bug, says report [Big News Network (United Arab Emirates)]

[January 15, 2014]

NSA taps offline computers with secret bug, says report [Big News Network (United Arab Emirates)]

(Big News Network (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) WASHINGTON - The US National Security Agency (NSA) has planted surveillance software using internet on nearly 100,000 computers outside of the U.S, it has been reported.

Citing documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden, the New York Times said the agency has come to increasingly rely on a new method that uses circuit boards and USB cards clandestinely planted on the computer to transmit data over radio waves without the need for the machine to be connected to a wider network.


The Times said the technology had been in use since at least 2008. Targets included the Chinese and Russian military as well as drug cartels, the newspaper claimed.

On Friday, the US President is expected to address concerns over NSA activity.

Quoting sources "briefed" on Barack Obama's plans, the Times reported that restrictions on the scope of collecting bulk telephone data will feature, and that a person will be appointed to represent the views of the public in secret intelligence meetings.

Furthermore, tighter controls on foreign surveillance will be implemented - an attempt, the paper suggests, to dampen the political fall-out from revelations the US had obtained data from the communication tools of world leaders without their knowledge.

"The radio frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack," the newspaper said.

"In most cases, the radio frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user." It is a significant revelation in that it undermines what was seen to be one of the simplest but most effective methods of making a system secure: isolating it from the internet.

While the technology involved is not new, its apparent implementation by US security services was previously unknown.

In a statement made to the New York Times, an NSA spokeswoman said technology has not been used in computers in the U.S.

"NSA's activities are focused and specifically deployed against - and only against - valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements,'' the statement said.

"We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of - or give intelligence we collect to - US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line." The new report follows up on NSA documents reported by Der Spiegel that featured an entire catalog of spying technology.

One document boasted that the NSA can gain total access to any targeted iPhone.

The report said that the NSA had to physically install a program to monitor it, but that "a remote installation capability" was in the works.

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