Print 23 comment(s) - last by Moishe.. on Jan 21 at 3:50 PM

Transceivers send radio signals to relay stations operated by field agents, who can be miles away from the target

The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has become a watchful eye behind many of our electronic devices, and a new report shows that it can continue watching even without an internet connection. 
According to The New York Times, the NSA used top secret radio technology to monitor offline computers, servers, smartphones, and other machines made by companies like Cisco, Dell, Western Digital, Seagate, Maxtor, Samsung, and Huawei.
The Times cited documents from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked NSA secrets to the media during the course of last year. 
The NSA program -- codenamed Quantum -- aimed to install spy software on machines shipped globally in an effort to monitor their activity and launch cyberattacks. The NSA reportedly placed the software on nearly 100,000 machines worldwide.
While the agency was able to use the internet to spy on many of the devices, it also found a way to keep an eye on those offline as well. It did so by using a covert channel of radio waves and special hardware, such as tiny circuit boards inside the machines or modified USB ports. 
From there, the transceivers send radio signals to relay stations operated by field agents, who can be miles away from the target.
The report further said that the NSA has been using the covert radio technology since at least 2008 in an effort to gain access to difficult targets.


Some of these tough targets are the Chinese military, Russian military networks, trade institutions inside the European Union, and Mexican police and drug cartels. 

There is currently no evidence that the agency used the surveillance software or radio wave technology inside the U.S.

The NSA denied accusations that said it could use such technology to help U.S. companies compete in international markets. 

"NSA's activities are focused and specifically deployed against -- and only against -- valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements," the NSA said in a statement. "In addition, 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."

The NSA has been under the microscope ever since former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked details about the NSA's secret spy programs to the media early last year. It was later revealed that Snowden conned between 20 to 25 NSA employees to give him their login credentials and passwords while working at the NSA regional operations center for a month in Hawaii last spring. Snowden reportedly told the NSA employees that he needed their passwords in order to do his job, and after downloading secret NSA documents, he leaked the information to the media.

Snowden told the media last month that his mission is complete after spending the last year leaking secret NSA documents. 

U.S. President Barack Obama is expected to discuss the changes planned for the National Security Agency's (NSA) surveillance programs this week. According to The Washington Post, Obama will announce the changes Friday, January 17. Many expect that more stringent rules will be placed on the NSA, more clearly spelling out what it can and cannot do. 

Source: The New York Times

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Too far?
By siconik on 1/15/2014 1:41:23 PM , Rating: 3
I am not sure how disclosing a program that was aimed at gaining access to foreign military data does anything but degrade national security. As noble as his intent might have been, this, in my opinion, does substantial harm to our national interests with almost no payoff as far as "protecting the freedoms" goes.

RE: Too far?
By lagomorpha on 1/15/2014 1:46:41 PM , Rating: 2
aimed at gaining access to foreign military

Is that what they told you? Give it time, by next week we'll have discovered that a number of Congressmen were bugged with these devices. You know, in the interest of 'national security'.

RE: Too far?
By therealnickdanger on 1/15/14, Rating: -1
RE: Too far?
By Samus on 1/15/2014 4:32:12 PM , Rating: 4
I was always wondering why my dishwasher had a radio antenna on it.

Now I know. They want to spy on my excellent dishwasher loading skills.

But I mean, you'd think they could at least make the antenna a little less obvious. It takes up a lot of counter space.

RE: Too far?
By EasyC on 1/16/2014 6:51:21 AM , Rating: 2
Well, they did that so you will buy the upgraded dishwasher (with a smaller antenna) next year.

RE: Too far?
By marvdmartian on 1/16/2014 7:13:36 AM , Rating: 2
Does it look like a microwave? Must have a powerful tranmitter, it can literally cook food!

RE: Too far?
By tayb on 1/15/2014 7:02:27 PM , Rating: 3
If the NSA would stop spying on Americans, grant Edward Snowden a full pardon, and welcome him home as a hero and true patriot I bet the leaks would stop.

And until the NSA stops spying on US citizens I really don't care if the leaks hurt our foreign interests. Stop spying on US citizens.

RE: Too far?
By ArcsinZ on 1/16/14, Rating: -1
RE: Too far?
By Philippine Mango on 1/16/2014 2:30:14 PM , Rating: 1
He's a hero because he's one of the few former govt. employees who took his oath to the constitution seriously.

RE: Too far?
By Reclaimer77 on 1/16/2014 2:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
Are you talking about Manning or Snowden?

Manning was a traitor and he possibly put American lives and allies lives at risk. He possibly gave aide and comfort to the enemy. He most certainly betrayed America.

But what exactly did Snowden "betray"??

RE: Too far?
By superstition on 1/17/2014 4:31:21 PM , Rating: 2
Horse puckey.

Exposing the US' shameful treatment of Haitian workers on behalf of Hanes and Levi-Strauss as well as the reckless murder of journalists and such does not qualify.

There is no evidence at all that his whistleblowing caused harm to anyone -- beyond political embarrassment. People like you just parrot back the false claims of authoritarians.

RE: Too far?
By seraphim1982 on 1/16/2014 2:55:32 PM , Rating: 2
All the founding members of US are traitors of the British. So are they branded heroes or traitors? Tell me.... They believed the monarchy were mistreating the colonies and declared independence. Snowden believes and proved, the majority of US citizens were being spied and lied to by the government. The rule of law that EVERYONE in the country follows has been broken by the people who enforce it on a daily basis.

So if no one finds out the police are abusing their power, its OK right? It is OK if American pharmaceuticals test on humans in other countries? BECAUSE YOU DO NOT KNOW ABOUT IT, ITS OK...
F'in tool, no wonder Americans are getting dumber by the year, they have a blind faith in a flag with stars and thinks that their leadership have an altruistic nature. Get over yourself and your blind faith in a country and leadership that has lied to its people time and again over the past 20 years.

There has been very little disclosure on Git Bay, Iraq, Afghanistan, spying.... facts haven't been released and when it is.... these people are traitors. Bradley Manning exposed blatant murder in Iraq, Snowden exposed a spy dragnet spying on half of the world. These heroes have the balls to stand up for what it right and honourable.

RE: Too far?
By tayb on 1/16/2014 4:31:49 PM , Rating: 2
The constitution of the United States is the highest law in the land. The constitution forbids search and seizure without due process. The NSA spying violates the constitution.

There is also such a thing as jury nullification whereby the citizens of a country are tasked not only with weighing the facts but also the validity of the law.

A man sacrificing life, limb, and freedom to uncover violations against the people of the United States and of the Constitution is patriotism. Sorry. This is a man who loves his country and is willing to make extreme sacrifices to protect it.

RE: Too far?
By Moishe on 1/21/2014 3:50:47 PM , Rating: 1
You do realize that it's possible to love the country and the ideals it was founded on (patriotism) but to also despise the people in charge and what they stand for?

People for years have been telling us that "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter."

A. Is Snowden a terrorist for breaking his promise to keep government secrets?
B. Is Snowden a freedom fighter for exposing fraud and illegal, traitorous activity within the government?

In "A." He's signed a contract and made a legal agreement to not give away secrets.

In "B." He's under the supreme law of the land which encompasses (and trumps) everything else.

See my logic? Now the only question is... Either way he's breaking the law either by being a "traitor" to his employer or by being a "traitor" to his country.

Snowden made his choice.

The next logical question in my mind is this: "When faced with an immoral, anti-constitutional(illegal) law, which path will you/I take?" Will you be the Nazi soldier that shoots helpless people just because it is an order, or do you have your own moral center and sense of what you will or will not do?

The problem with the situation is that there are govt goons protecting their illegal actions from being exposed, and they don't give a crap about the higher law. It's easier to do the "wrong" thing and hide the corruption because the effects are larger and more painful than the alternative.

Nobody is perfect. Nor does anyone have perfect motivations, but I think Snowden is a "freedom fighter" because he saw injustice and exposed it. He did that at great cost to his own life. I respect that. It would have been easier and cowardly to just play the game and collect the paycheck like the thousands of other NSA analysts are doing.

RE: Too far?
By lagomorpha on 1/17/2014 10:00:23 AM , Rating: 2

Today I Briefed Congress on the NSA
This morning I spent an hour in a closed room with six Members of Congress: Rep. Lofgren, Rep. Sensenbrenner, Rep. Scott, Rep. Goodlate, Rep Thompson, and Rep. Amash. No staffers, no public: just them. Lofgren asked me to brief her and a few Representatives on the NSA. She said that the NSA wasn't forthcoming about their activities, and they wanted me -- as someone with access to the Snowden documents -- to explain to them what the NSA was doing. Of course I'm not going to give details on the meeting, except to say that it was candid and interesting. And that it's extremely freaky that Congress has such a difficult time getting information out of the NSA that they have to ask me. I really want oversight to work better in this country.
Surreal part of setting up this meeting: I suggested that we hold this meeting in a SCIF, because they wanted me to talk about top secret documents that had not been made public. The problem is that I, as someone without a clearance, would not be allowed into the SCIF. So we had to have the meeting in a regular room.

In order for Congress to learn about what the NSA has been doing they have to ask someone who has access to the Snowden documents. Let that sink in for a bit. The only way for them to find out how a program they approved is being abused is through these leaks. If you think that these programs are so important to "national security" that they should be hidden from Congress you are naive.

RE: Too far?
By Moishe on 1/21/2014 3:33:14 PM , Rating: 2
I.e. "keep me safe at all costs."

How does this do substantial harm? How does this not break the law and infringe on our freedoms?

Are you blind?

No big surprise
By Jaybus on 1/15/2014 3:37:45 PM , Rating: 2
No big deal. I worked as a systems programmer for a large bank back in the late 1990's. The facility was max security. No windows, fenced parking with razor wire and cameras, armed guards, double entry gates, double entry doors, badge that only gave you physical access to the halls/rooms you were allowed to be in, etc. The computer rooms were, even way back then, protected by Faraday shielding and had their own filtered power systems. Why do you think they did that? This sort of electronic sigint has been possible for decades. Nothing new.

RE: No big surprise
By augiem on 1/15/2014 3:57:21 PM , Rating: 2
Sounds like an opportunity to me! Faraday wall paper anyone?

RE: No big surprise
By augiem on 1/15/2014 3:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
RE: No big surprise
By lagomorpha on 1/16/2014 8:17:18 AM , Rating: 2
Why do you think they did that? This sort of electronic sigint has been possible for decades.

Well that and the cost/benefit analysis of shielding vs the tiny but not non-existent risks of unusual solar electromagnetic radiation, EMP, HERF attacks, etc probably made this one a no-brainer.

By holymaniac on 1/15/2014 7:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
The NSA with unlimited funds, is capable of many things. Two things it CANNOT do is tell the truth or be trusted.

well that sucks...
By cubby1223 on 1/16/2014 6:24:51 PM , Rating: 2
...for U.S. businesses trying to sell products internationally.

Can't imagine people eagerly lining up to order from U.S. companies anymore.

Then they aren't offline then.
By CZroe on 1/17/2014 6:19:31 PM , Rating: 2
"NSA Taps Into Offline Computers with Radio Waves, Special Hardware"

...should say...

"NSA Taps Into Offline Computers by putting them online wirelessly."

"Online" does not exclusively mean "on the Internet."

"And boy have we patented it!" -- Steve Jobs, Macworld 2007

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