Feeds

Modern spying 101: How NSA bugs Chinese PCs with tiny USB radios - NYT

Project 'Quantum' pwns air-gapped computers with mysterious devices

The essential guide to IT transformation

The NSA has compromised almost 100,000 computers around the world in its quest to get its tentacles into air-gapped computers operated by adversaries such as the Chinese Army.

The revelation was made by the New York Times in a report published on Tuesday based on documents released by Edward Snowden.

The spy agency has penetrated these computers via "a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the internet," the NYT reports.

This tech has been in use since 2008 and uses a "covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards."

These ghastly widgets sometimes pass data onto a briefcase-sized relay point named "Nightstand" that can be used up to eight miles away, and can feed data packets back to the compromised host. The tech is physically inserted by agents, component manufacturers, or unwitting people who have been pwned, we're told.

Frequent targets of the uber-snoop tech include the Chinese Army, along with Russian military networks, trade institutes within the European Union, systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, and folk in Saudi Arabia, India, and Pakistan.

Some of this sneaky gear was crucial to the "Olympic Games" cyber-attack program which successfully inserted the Stuxnet virus into Iranian nuclear facilities. ®

Next gen security for virtualised datacentres

More from The Register

next story
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
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
Think crypto hides you from spooks on Facebook? THINK AGAIN
Traffic fingerprints reveal all, say boffins
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
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
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.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.