back to article How the NSA hacks PCs, phones, routers, hard disks 'at speed of light': Spy tech catalog leaks

A leaked NSA cyber-arms catalog has shed light on the technologies US and UK spies use to infiltrate and remotely control PCs, routers, firewalls, phones and software from some of the biggest names in IT. The exploits, often delivered via the web, provide clandestine backdoor access across networks, allowing the intelligence …


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  1. Bruce Ordway

    The focus of attention.

    Religious beliefs, political affiliations and disputes will always draw someones attention.

    It is disturbing to hear of the ease with which an interested party can collect, use or expose my details

  2. dssf

    Nauseating, but not surprising...

    I like the name "IRATEMONK", inventive...

    As for HOWLERMONKEY, I months ago became suspicious of those little RJ-45 ports at the tables in SFPL. IT just put them there, with no notices to the users, as if we're supposed to use them instead of the ones already in the tables' midsections.

    As for:

    " And if that fails, agents can simply intercept your hardware deliveries from Amazon to install hidden gadgets that rat you out via radio communications "

    this, I suspected months or years ago. After all, in the early and mid-90s, gangs were stealing mobos from trucking shipments. Probably they came up with the idea unilaterally or were inspired, and maybe they inspired the NSA and other groups. But, then, mobile vehicle tracking came along. I wonder when THOSE devices were modded. I would imagine, though, that FEDEX, AIRBORN, EMORY, UPS, and numerous carriers of the time and of today had or still have no idea when their fleet vehicles are being diverted, shunted, delayed, penetrated, or even outright replaced (maybe the cab, too?, but the personal effects transferred) when certain high-value shipments needed/need to be tampered with.

    Years ago, I used to posit ideas like this, and time after time, people snarled that I was looney. FUCK, if reality doesn't come along and bite THEM in their asses. I hope some of them sit over a mug of draft and say, "Say, remember that daft guy who had all these ideas?" Well, some of them I cannot recall, but, it's funny and frightening to see this shit in the headlines. Vindication and vomitus stirring in the same pot and pit.

    Now, this'll just end up in movies, or in more movies.

    BTW, get around to watching a HK cop-thriller about a financial irregularities unit spying on crims manipulating the HK stocks. They get found out by another security apparatus, and the baddies, too, find out. All hell breaks loose in sophisticated yet brutal HK film manner, and it is utterly devastating to the cops who thought they'd take a dip and skim off the top. The best part was when I heard one character tell another that even removing the phone's battery would not stop it from remote manipulation -- that the phones usually havve a second, hidden battery, and that the phone needed to be drowned out by loud music and EM, or put in a securing box. Of course, it ratcheted up the stakes in the film, to make the cops have to physically access the room needing to be surveilled. And, that movie was out around 2007 or 2009, and I only saw it around 2008 or 2011. Overheard 2 is not as great, from what I read.

    Net result of all this may be public desensitization and blitheness overall. Who knows? But, it should make it easy for some creative screenwriters to get really on the fringe of imagination and make even more tense and intense viewing moments. Well, assuming the reviewers and censors don't force them to drop such scenes on the cutting room floor/digidal dust bin.

    Of course, all this I write, and most of us write, could be on virtual/honeynet servers, and that we're so well monitored that no matter what machine we try to find our postings on, we'll be served up on a silver platter to... Ourselves.

    All this makes me even more disappointed in writing to friends in places such as SK, where some messages never seem to be replied to, or replied to DAYS after, and some message replied in person with "I never saw it... I looked, and never saw it..."

    Once, in Shanghai, last year, someone in the apartment bloc got between me and and a SK-situated friend, taunting me. My SK-based friend said it wasn't him, and it was quite unsetteling, unleasing all variety of "If for just two minutes I were a god, what malevolent violence I'd unleash upon any and all related to this moment's intrusion" feelings.

    So, some of the public will be desensitized, and some will be sent into circular fury, with little room to vent. Such will be worse than the terrorists these programs are meant to derail. Unfortunate, nerve-wracking, and, well, unfortunate... Circular Terror might become a new buzzword.

  3. Mark Major



    If this were April 1st, I'd laugh!

    I wonder if they really use these code-names internally? Their meetings must largely consist of, "Maybe we could use... errr.... ummm..... you know, THINGUMYWOTSIT.... errr, MONKEYBALLS... no, that's not it. Ummmm..... OWLHERITAGE??? You know, the one that intercepts the mobile phone signals!!?"

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge


      Yes, they do. Acronyms and initialisms are SOP for the US DoD. For one thing, it reduces chatter. For another, as another poster noted, it makes textual communication more precise. Both objectives are militarily significant.

      1. GrahamsTenPenneth

        Re: SEASONEDMOTH ?

        I have created a new hack.

        It's a virus which is uploaded to the firmware of your keyboard.

        It relays your key presses to a central server via your internet connection so what you typed can be processed and rated for truthfullness.

        I named it BULLSHIT.

  4. Sanctimonious Prick

    Spot The Hacking

    British detectives have analysed mobile phone records of the men who are believed to be members of a burglary gang preying on tourists in the Algarve beach resort town of Praia da Luz around the time Madeleine vanished.

    The police have tracked a high volume of calls between the three men in the hours after Madeleine was reported missing from the holiday apartment rented by her parents, Kate and Gerry McCann.


    Considering Portugal isn't being very cooperative, I wonder how they got those records, hmm???


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