The US National Security Agency (NSA) used secret technology to spy on computers that were not even connected to the internet, it has been reported. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-25743074
Citing documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden, the New York Times said 100,000 machines were fitted with small devices that emitted radio waves.
This latest leak details how the NSA accessed targets by inserting tiny circuit boards or USB cards into computers and using radio waves to transmit data without the need for the machine to be connected to a wider network.
It is a significant revelation in that it undermines what was seen to be one of the simplest but most effective methods of making a system secure: isolating it from the internet.
While the technology involved is not new, its apparent implementation by US security services was previously unknown.
In a statement made to the New York Times, an NSA spokeswoman said none of the targets were in the US, adding: “We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of – or give intelligence we collect to – US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”
The National Security Agency has implanted software in nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the United States to conduct surveillance on those machines and can also create a digital highway for launching cyberattacks. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/us/nsa-effort-pries-open-computers-not-connected-to-internet.html?ref=world
While most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, 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 N.S.A. documents, computer experts and American officials.
The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, 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.
The radio frequency technology has helped the American intelligence agencies by getting into computers that adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious to spying or cyberattack. Only in some cases must the radio frequency hardware be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer or an unwitting user.