The N.S.A. has implanted small devices in 100,000 computers around the world that emitted radio waves for surveillance tracking.This digital highway was created to conduct surveillance and launch cyber-attacks, reports the N.Y. Times today.
Targets included the Chinese and Russian military as well as drug cartels, the newspaper claimed. The U.S. had used cyber-attacks on Iran’s computer system and created a virus to slow its nuclear development program. The New York Times withheld some of those details, at the request of American intelligence officials, when it reported, in the summer of 2012, on American cyberattacks on Iran.
Unlike software that gains access to computer networks by inserting software, the N.S.A. has increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the Internet according to sources in Snowden released documents.
This radio pathway has been used since 2008. It relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.
It has been used as a defensive measure according to the N.S.A. and it has not been used against foreign companies, says a N.S.A. official.
But the program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the European Union, and sometime partners against terrorism like Pakistan, according to officials and an N.S.A. map that indicates sites of what the agency calls ‘computer network exploitation.’
‘N.S.A.'s activities are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements,’ Vanee Vines, an agency spokeswoman, said in a statement. ‘We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.’
President Obama is scheduled to announce on Friday what recommendations he is accepting from an advisory panel on changing N.S.A. practices. Conversations with Silicon Valley executives were concerns that programs undermine global confidence when the N.S.A. develops these programs.
In response to the Silicon Valley’s critique of the N.S.A., the panel has recommended banning, except in extreme cases, the N.S.A. practice of exploiting flaws in common software to aid in American surveillance and cyberattacks.
Richard A. Clarke, an official in the Clinton and Bush administrations who served as one of the five members of the advisory panel, explained the group’s reasoning in an email last week, saying that ‘it is more important that we defend ourselves than that we attack others.’
Clarke added, ‘Holes in encryption software would be more of a risk to us than a benefit,” he said, adding: “If we can find the vulnerability, so can others. It’s more important that we protect our power grid than that we get into China’s.’
For more information on the discussions of the N.S.A. and Obama Administration please, view the articles below in Author's list and the video atop this article.