National Security Agency has put software in almost 100,000 computers
around the world allowing it to carry out surveillance on those devices
and could provide a digital highway for cyberattacks, the New York Times
reported on Tuesday.
The NSA has planted most of the software
through getting access to computer networks, but has also used a secret
technology that allows it entry even to computers not connected to the
Internet, the Times said, citing U.S. officials, computer experts and
documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
Times said the technology had been in use since at least 2008 and relied
on a covert channel of radio waves transmitted from tiny circuit boards
and USB cards secretly inserted in the computers.
frequency technology has helped solve one of the biggest problems facing
American intelligence agencies for years: getting into computers that
adversaries, and some American partners, have tried to make impervious
to spying or cyberattack," the newspaper said. "In most cases, the radio
frequency hardware must be physically inserted by a spy, a manufacturer
or an unwitting user."
Frequent targets of the program,
code-named Quantum, have included units of the Chinese military, which
Washington has accused of conducting digital attacks on U.S. military
and industrial targets, the Times said.
The newspaper said the
program had also succeeded in planting software in Russian military
networks as well as systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels,
European Union trade institutions and allies such as Saudi Arabia, India
The Times said there was no evidence the NSA had implanted software or used the radio technology inside the United States.
activities are focused and specifically deployed against - and only
against - valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence
requirements," the Times quoted an agency spokeswoman as saying.
about U.S. government spying on civilians and foreign officials burst
into the open in June when Snowden, now living in asylum in Russia,
leaked documents outlining widespread collection of telephone metadata
President Barack Obama plans to unveil on Friday a
series of intelligence reforms, including how the NSA operates, with a
view toward giving Americans more confidence their privacy is not being
© Thomson Reuters 2014