How does NSA hack you? They intercept computers during delivery, says report


So the NSA is pretty much giving everyone the middle finger these days by spying on your mother, brother, and Bob, your drugged up uncle from the south. While that’s disturbing, nothing is more so than the NSA intercepting laptop computers bought online for the purpose of adding malware and other programs to spy on the would be user. At this point, I’m wondering if the NSA is spying on me because I bought my laptop from eBay, so who knows? If they are, I’d like to say hi and promise a slamming performance via webcam later tonight.

The division in the NSA behind this senseless movement is called Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. Basically, these guys are the hackers tasked with the job of stealing data information from the toughest targets, and they are willing to do anything to get what they want, which includes intercepting your brand spanking new Windows laptop.

The German magazine that lifted the lid on the operations claimed that the NSA has some crazy hardware designed for hard to crack cases. For example, the agency has in its possession a computer monitoring cable that can track every bit of information you type on the screen, along with USB sticks that are fitted with radio transmitters. This is like something out of a James Bond movie before the movies became watchable with the release of Casino Royale.

Furthermore, the magazine states the NSA is capable of intercepting mobile phone signals on the go with fake base stations.

What’s interesting is how the NSA spies on Microsoft’s crash report. You know what I’m talking about, right? That crash report that usually pops up whenever something goes wrong, which also gives you the option to send it to Microsoft. Well, report claims the NSA made fun of Microsoft by replacing the standard error message on a user’s computer with the following.

“This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint (signals intelligence) system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine.”

Such a smack in the face to Microsoft’s own security capabilities, ouch. We have a feeling this will not go down well at Redmond; we’ll be keeping a close eye on the situation as it develops.

[via Politico]

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  • New Moon

    For that cable part, the stuff that does the magic is inside the hard end/s, the rubber sleeve that you hold to plug in. If you’re concerned, buy a cheap xray machine such as a reflow oven that normally comes with it, and try to check all your cables with the xray. If something is inside it, you will see it straight away like an elephant on the beech.

    Some stuff transmit, some don’t. If you want to be totally safe, don’t use the internet at all. Plus you have to put your computer and yourself inside a Faraday cage, container or a metal box.

  • Raeldin

    Huh, I always reinstall windows after getting a new laptop. Glad I don’t like the way laptops come from the factory. :-)

    I tend to build my own pcs so those aren’t intercepted. Does this mean I should ship my pc to me so they can intercept and ‘fix’ it for me?

  • David Dee

    What is the trade names of these usb sticks, or are we supposed to guess?

  • Scott Hedrick

    This isn’t the reason I tend to flush my system and reinstall my software once a year, but now it’s on the list of reasons.

  • Big brother is here! (George Orwell just got the year wrong.)

  • Ashraf

    [@Reginald] Vamien at his best :-)

  • Reginald

    ” I’d like to say hi and promise a slamming performance via webcam later tonight.”

    LOL! That was a good one mate. Tickled me funny bone it did!