Feeds

Jackal novelist blames NSA for wife's laptop hack

Barking tale of West African cyber-snoop told to Beeb

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.