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NSA taps computers with secret bug

WASHINGTON: The US National Security Agency has
developed a secret technology to spy on computers via radio signals, gathering
information even when the devices are offline, a report said Wednesday.
The New York Times
reported that the NSA has implanted software on 100,000 computers around the
world to be able to conduct surveillance, and which gives the spy agency “a
digital highway” for launching cyber attacks. The Times, citing unnamed sources,
said the agency has used the program code-named Quantum since at least 2008,
relying on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny
circuit boards and cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. It said
the radio technology has helped solve a key problem for US intelligence
agencies, by getting into computers of adversaries that are hardened against
attacks.
But it noted that the
radio frequency hardware must in most cases be physically inserted by a spy, a
manufacturer or an unwitting user. The report said the NSA and its Pentagon
partner, United States Cyber Command, have used these techniques against the Chinese
Army, which has been accused of cyber attacks on US firms. It has also been used
against Russian military networks, Mexican police and drug cartels, trade
institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism
like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, according to officials and documents
cited by the US newspaper.
In a statement to AFP, the
NSA did not directly comment on the report but said the agency “deploys various
foreign intelligence techniques to help defend the nation.” “As we have
previously stated, the implication that NSA’s collection is arbitrary and
unconstrained is false.

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