Feeds

Jackal novelist blames NSA for wife's laptop hack

Barking tale of West African cyber-snoop told to Beeb

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Novelist Frederick Forsyth has accused heavy handed US cyber-spies of destroying his wife's computer in an attempt to tap into copy he was filling for the Daily Express from West Africa.

The author of The Day of the Jackal and The Odessa File made the bizarre claim during an recent interview with BBC TV programme Hardtalk. Forsyth told the programme that he arrived in the West African state of Guinea-Bissau to research an upcoming novel to find the country in the middle of a coup, following the assassination of an army chief.

Forsyth wrote a story on the unfolding events for the Daily Express, a UK tabloid paper for which he writes an occasional column, and began to dictate his copy over the telephone to London before computer disaster struck. The novelist reckons that US spooks not only listened into his conversation but hacked into his wife's laptop, incompetently drawing attention to their nefarious activities by totalling the machine.

Unfortunately, the American intelligence services listened to it and wasted my wife's computer screen and totalled all her lunch dates... Everything up there in the ether is intercepted, probably by the National Security Agency at Fort Meade in Maryland, and I think my report ended up somewhere on a desk at Fort Meade.

Forsyth went on to say that he had "friends in low places" who confirmed his suspicions that his spouse's PC was the target of a remote attack. A pre-existing malware infection seems far more likely, as security consultant Graham Cluley of Sophos points out.

The idea that the NSA might be listening into international telephones calls from a country in the middle of a coup seems more than likely, but the remote blow-up yarn is wildly implausible. Perhaps Forsyth was retelling a story he'd earlier used to placate his wife for a damaged machine or to explain the tardiness or non-arrival of his copy.

UK readers can see Forsyth's Hardtalk via the BBC's iPlayer here. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
Rupert Murdoch says Google is worse than the NSA
Mr Burns vs. The Chocolate Factory, round three!
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Know what Ferguson city needs right now? It's not Anonymous doxing random people
U-turn on vow to identify killer cop after fingering wrong bloke
Germany 'accidentally' snooped on John Kerry and Hillary Clinton
Dragnet surveillance picks up EVERYTHING, USA, m'kay?
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
Who needs hackers? 'Password1' opens a third of all biz doors
GPU-powered pen test yields more bad news about defences and passwords
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.