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NSA's radio wave technology spies on computers not connected to the Internet

A combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the U.S. a window it’s never had before. Does it make you feel safer? The USA tells the world that it doesn't use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence collected to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line. The spying is used for defense or protection, not for business competitiveness, according to a January 15, 2014 NY Times article by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, "N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers." Forget computers. A program called Dropoutjeep also attacks iPhones. Other hardware and software are designed to infect large network servers, including those made by other nations. See, "Dropoutjeep: NSA's Secret program to access any Apple iPhone."

NSA's radio wave technology spies on computers not connected to the Internet.
Photo by David Paul Morris/Getty Images

NSA has technology that can insert packets of data into any given computer in milliseconds, faster than your computer can warn you of a false message or harmful programming coming into your computer. The technology can create a link between your computer and the NSA, without you being online or on any type of Internet connection.

Check out, "NSA iPhone spyware claims 100% success rate, requires physical access."An NSA program called DROPOUTJEEP installs spyware on Apple iPhones with a 100% success rate of obtaining data, according to leaked documents shared by German news magazine Der Spiegel and security researcher Jacob Appelbaum. The magazine also detailed an elite unit in the NSA in a Dec. 29 report, notes that article.

There's no domestic use of NSA's radio wave technology to spy on computers that don't have to be connected to the Internet. It's about exploring cyber space data. But what happens if another nation uses it on you? Who's going to intercept the counterspy? How will you be protected?

Tit for tat

You may wish to check out the January 15, 2014 NY Times article by David E. Sanger and Thom Shanker, "N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers." Or view the video: The N.S.A.’s Evolution. The goal is defensive. The USA can monitor or disable any computer before it could be used to launch a cyberattack. So why do cyberattacks keep happening, where individual shoppers debit and credit card information is compromised by unknown criminals so their identities can be stolen and used by others to run up a bill? Why are poor and middle-class people being attacked, identities stolen, when they use debit or credit cards at grocery stores or discount department stores where their personal information gets taken by criminals?

According to the NY Times article, the National Security Agency (NSA) has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that lets the United States spy on those machines, using radio frequency technology, even when there's no connection to the Internet. The software can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks.

The radio frequency is not a new idea. It has been in use since at least 2008 surreptitiously

A covert channel of radio waves can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted by a spy putting the hardware into the computer, perhaps at the manufacturer's location, before the computer even arrives to its destination. It's done surreptitiously.

In some cases, radio waves are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target. In past years, a program named Treasure Map tried to identify nearly every part of the web, so that any computer or mobile device that touched it could be located. But now, a computer need not be connected to the Web to penetrate and control the computer, take the data, or change the data in it.

The NSA's technology enters and alters data in computers whether they're connected to the Internet or not

For years this type of radio frequency technology has been used to solve problems such as how to spy on the computers of adversaries or even partners. The average consumer may wonder who are the spies inserting the radio frequency hardware into computers. Is it a spy, a manufacturer, or a user who has no idea that he or she is putting such hardware into any given computer?

Such types of defensive tools are supposed to be used against foreign cyberattacks. After all, other nations place similar software on the computers of American corporations, government agencies, or other establishments and enterprises. How many foreign attackers have placed the same hardware on American computers? It's a tit-for-tat situation, where everyone seems to be spying on everyone else, or so it may seem, and is called active defense against cyberattacks.

If you check out the NY Times article, you'll note how it emphasizes that that N.S.A. has not implanted its software or used its radio frequency technology inside the United States

You may wish to check out the site, United States Cyber Command. You can read about the targets of the NSA and the Pentagon. Who is being spied upon and who, in turn is spying back using this type of radio wave frequency? There's a technology called ANT, for example, that can secretly transmit and receive digital signals from computers. See, "THIS IS ANT - the Wireless Sensor Network Solution." ANT is a Wireless Personal Network protocol, by Dynastream Innovations Inc., with small size, reasonable cost and Very Low Power requirements, according to that website.

According to the NY Times article, Der Spiegel, a German newsmagazine, published the N.S.A.'s catalog of hardware products that can secretly transmit and receive digital signals from computers. So now, everybody reading the news in the USA knows about ANT, even if a reader has never been on a computer. At least 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.

Map published of areas where USA has inserted spy software

A Dutch newspaper published the map of areas where the United States has inserted spy software, sometimes in cooperation with local authorities, often covertly, notes the NY Times article, "N.S.A. Devises Radio Pathway Into Computers. " You can check out the article to see who are the most frequent targets of the NSA and the Pentagon. Which foreign intelligence units were spied upon? The program, code-named Quantum, has also been successful in inserting software into the armies of certain nations, various military targets, various police and cartels of different countries, and a number of trade institutions overseas.

The program also was planted in some partners' networks. Was this type of spying defensive, exploitation, or research? Check out the N.S.A. map that indicates sites of what the agency calls “computer network exploitation,” according to the NY Times article. You may wish to check out sites such as the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

You also may wish to check out the January 15, 2014 NY Times article by Peter Baker and Charlie Savage, "Obama to Place Some Restraints on Surveillance." President Obama plans to increase limits on access to phone data, call for privacy safeguards for foreigners and propose a public advocate post, people briefed on his thinking today reported to the NY Times.

The Stuxnet attack

You may want to check out the Stuxnet attack, which was that the technology the United States slipped into Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant at Natanz. The technology mapped how it operated, then “phone home” the details. Later, that equipment was used to insert malware that blew up nearly 1,000 centrifuges, and temporarily set back Iran’s program. What have you got to lose if a cyberattack gets personal? See, "Stuxnet Was Far More Dangerous Than Previous Thought." Or check out, "New cyber-attack model helps predict timing of the next Stuxnet."

No one may be interested for the moment in your computer. But there are other ways to take away your private property or live savings for your expenses. For example, thousands of seniors recently were called by fraudulent robo calls seeking personal information such as credit/debit card information offering various devices that appeal to older people living alone who are afraid of suddenly falling ill with no help around for days or months because they wouldn't be able to reach a phone, speak, or call for help. And recently shoppers personal information was compromised from various stores.

So where does it begin and end as spy defends against spy, and at the individual level personal information is eagerly wanted by criminals waiting to separate you from your savings or property? On the other hand, everyone wants protection. The question is at what price are you willing to pay for your body guard symbol?

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