Top NSA hacks of our computers

Top NSA hacks of our computers

Summary: The latest leaked documents from the NSA reveal a long collection, from 2007-2008, of software and hardware used to spy on computers, networks and to capture audio and video.

TOPICS: Security

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  • SPARROW II: A passive Wifi collection device

    A mini-Linux 2.4 device with a PowerPC chip that captures at least 2 hours of wifi data (at which point the battery starts to go). It runs the BLINDDATE application software, whatever that is. It has Mini PCI slots for expansion.

    The document is dated 7/25/2008.



  • RAGEMASTER, TAWDRYYARD and NIGHTWATCH: What's on your display and where is it?

    RAGEMASTER is amazing: it's a device that's embedded " the ferrite video cable" between the card and monitor. It taps the red video signal and re-radiated to a separate unit which decodes and displays it.

    That unit would be NIGHTWATCH. TAWDRYYARD acts as a beacon to assist in the location of the RAGEMASTER units.

    According to Cryptome, this technology has been used fairly recently, " of September 2010 at the following embassies: Brazil's UN Mission in NY (POKOMOKE), France's UN Mission in NY (BLACKFOOT), India's Embassy and annex in DC, and India's UN Mission in New York. India's embassies were slated to be detasked, at the time of the document."

    The documents are dated 7/24/2008 and 4/7/2009.





  • GINSU+BULLDOZER+KONGUR: Spying on you through the PCI bus

    BULLDOZER is a hardware implant in the PCI bus, installed "through interdiction." KONGUR is a malware payload that uses BULLDOZER to spy on and control the system. GINSU makes KONGUR persistent.

    The document is dated 6/20/2008.



Topic: Security

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  • I'd hardly call them hacks.

    They paid the companies to put in back doors, no hacking skills necessary.
    Jacob VanWagoner
    • Not necessarily

      Even the devices (like COTTONMOUTH-III - which are soldered to the motherboard could be done without vendor cooperation or knowledge. We know from other documents that they can have shipments diverted to them, contents modified and then forwarded on to the destination. Many of the tools could be applied by IT at the company.
      I'm inclined to believe that very few vendors, as a company decision, would knowingly install any of these tools. It's probably easier for everyone if the NSA bribes or otherwise induces an employee to do it for them, either an employee at the manufacturer, or at a distributor or in company IT.
      Larry Seltzer
  • This is why we build our own.

    For military and government contractors, all parts must be made (and assembled) in the USA. Quite simply so China doesn't do this to us.
    • That can't be true

      There are too many parts not made in the US for that to be true. I didn't think anyone even makes DRAM in the US for a long time, and I bet nobody makes displays
      Larry Seltzer
  • If you want something really malicious and dangerous.....

    wait for the volunteers who willingly give their information up and expect you to do the same.
  • Is there anyway to catch such add-ons?

    Without knowing every chip that is supposed to be on a board and thus seeing something that doesn't belong there, how is anyone able to discover such devices or to protect against backdoors in any of the software we purchase?

    I assume there's a backdoor in every Comcast modem/DVR, every email software program, etc. Not that we can do anything about it. . .or can we?
  • More incentive to use only companies with no US affiliation

    China is already developing a national Linux version and a national microprocessor. These NSA programs just encourage them to do it more rapidly. And good luck finding a bunch of US-based engineers and computer scientists who know technical Chinese well enough to hack hardware and software written from the ground up in Chinese and can qualify for the necessary US security clearances.
  • can you help me?

    I'm an American in Beijing and I am being hacked by the same NSA gimmick shown in your article. The the second image in the series of slides at the bottom you see a screen says : internet self service system with an authorization code window
    I'm looking now at your article and I DON'T SEE IT!!!!
    I'm not a crazy paranoid weirdo.
    What is a person supposed to do? Please help me!
    Cheryl Petty