A new report found that the NSA, in collaboration with the CIA and FBI, routinely intercepts shipping deliveries for laptops or other computer accessories in order to implant bugs before they reach their destinations.
In 2013 whistle-blower Edward Snowden confirmed what many people suspected, namely that the powers that be were spying on them. The extent of the spying, however, continues to shock and news that the NSA intercepted laptops to plant bugs will cause anger.
Big Brother is watching you was a famous phrase from a work of fiction by George Orwell but it has become reality in the 21st Century. Most people, especially in the west, use modern technology constantly throughout the day, meaning a mobile phone, laptop or IPad could be a perfect vehicle for spies.
According to a report in The Verge this already happens: .."the signals intelligence agency's elite hacking unit (TAO) is able to conduct sophisticated wiretaps in ways that make Hollywood fantasy look more like reality. The report indicates that the NSA, in collaboration with the CIA and FBI, routinely and secretly intercepts shipping deliveries for laptops or other computer accessories in order to implant bugs before they reach their destinations".
The perils of purchasing online now also include state implanted bugs.
The wording may be confusing at times but the gist of spying revelations is that people are being wrongly, or even unlawfully, spied upon by US agents. Der Spiegel reports: "It appears the NSA also incorporates routers and servers from non-NSA networks into its covert network by infecting these networks with "implants" that then allow the government hackers to control the computers remotely. (Click here to read a related article on the NSA's "implants".)"
The "victim" of the state attack is then directed to use NSA managed sites and pages where infected malware may cause havoc to a laptop. As Der Spiegel reports "One document labeled "top secret" and "not for foreigners" describes the NSA's success in spying on the "SEA-ME-WE-4" cable system. This massive underwater cable bundle connects Europe with North Africa and the Gulf states and then continues on through Pakistan and India, all the way to Malaysia and Thailand. The cable system originates in southern France, near Marseille. Among the companies that hold ownership stakes in it are France Telecom, now known as Orange and still partly government-owned, and Telecom Italia Sparkle".
One product codenamed COTTONMOUTH has been available to the NSA since 2009.
COTTONMOUTH is a USB "hardware implant" which secretly "provides the NSA with remote access to the compromised machine". COTTONMOUTH is available to NSA agents, along with other tech tools, via what Der Spiegel describes as a mail-order spy catalog.
Silicone Valley companies, such as Microsoft and Cisco, are now attempting a damage limitations exercise as confidence in the industry falls. The Verge reports "Microsoft, labeled the agency an "advanced persistent threat" over its efforts to secretly collect private user data within the internal networks of Google and Yahoo". In true James Bond style NSA and TAO agents work alongside the FBI and CIA conducting raids. Apart from utilising remote access the agents physically visit places in order to plant wiretaps.
In his Christmas message Edward Snowden warned about an increasing lack of privacy which could see future generations living in totalitarian states.
Days ago Digital Journal reported that a Judge had ruled NSA phone surveillance lawful, denying an ACLU challenge but, with each piece of information released to the public it is obvious that the spying has gone way too far.
So next time you want to purchase a laptop who will you buy from and where?