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

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 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Wzrd1

    It's in the chairs!

    They run off and get new chairs.

    It's in the mousepads!

    New mousepads.

    It's in the monitor!

    New monitors.

    It's in the keyboards!

    New keyboards, just for the hell of it, new computers.

    It's in your glasses!

    New glasses.

    It's in...

    The NSA swoops in on the going out of business sale.

    1. Psyx

      Or you just put your IT gear used for classified material inside a TEMPEST shielded room... just like we were all doing 20 years ago.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        or

        You fill it full of fake information and watch the NSA run around like morons chasing fake leads and make-believe nasty men.

    2. JeffyPoooh
      Pint

      So. Where are the pictures?

      Someone somewhere should have found the physical evidence by now (the extra chip with a wire antenna) and posted the pictures. Or some overly-observant Linux-god IT-type would have noticed their USB cable inexplicably slurping files. Or some ham radio type would have noticed the RF signal and tracked it back to the source. So where is the evidence? I'm not implying that this story is therefore not true. I'm just asking: Where are the pictures?

      Typically these sorts of things would have been detected, documented, reverse engineered, decoded, tested to see 'Will it blend?', bill-of-material cost estimated, and so on. All in the first week.

      1. Tom Chiverton 1

        Re: So. Where are the pictures?

        People who are likely to notice this sort of targeted attack aren't targeted by it. Simples, and obvious.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

        So that's why no pictures?

        I always wondered why some of my porn was so slow loading. It's GCHQ sluping my genitalia for use when I become a threat or when I am able to serve a political purpose.

        I'd better ease off my effort to expose Glowballs as a Thatcherite threat designed to thwart Arthur Scargil. ...Oops!

  2. John Savard

    Proving His Enemies Right

    The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship which oppresses its people in general and minorities in particular; it menaces the liberty of the people of Taiwan.

    A disclosure of active intelligence operations by the U.S. against China, therefore, is directly weakening the U.S. against a potential - and actual - adversary.

    Remember the time, not long ago, when an American airplane over international waters was disabled by a Chinese pilot, forcing it to land on Chinese territory - causing the plane, containing classified technology, to be taken apart while in China?

    Up until now, his disclosures seemed to a layperson like myself to be such as to cause minimal damage, but to serve the purpose of informing the American people of activities affecting their privacy which may have been in violation of the Constitution.

    The quantum computer disclosure was not in that category, but it only revealed what most people would have guessed - that the NSA was interested in the technology, enough to spend a few dollars learning about it.

    But at this point, the people who have been saying from the start that he deserves to be shot as a traitor finally have something they can point to.

    1. Spoddyhalfwit

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      @john savard

      The NSA and US govt lost the "right to privacy" when the decided to start spying on allied leaders, foreign businesses, charities, not to mention ordinary people.

      To believe they are motivated by some urge to keep us or Taiwan or anywhere else safe is naive at best.

      1. FormerKowloonTonger
        Facepalm

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        @Spoddyhalfwit:

        Re: "To believe they are motivated by some urge to keep us or Taiwan or anywhere else safe is naive at best."

        Silly snarky posting made even more so by using the name-handle, "Spoddyhalfwit". Or, was that deliberate?

        1. Spoddyhalfwit
          Terminator

          Re: Proving His Enemies Right

          @formerkowloontonger

          Well you have "loon" in your posting name?

          Having read some of your previous posts I see you are one of those American folks who has permanent skid marks in your y-fronts from worrying about Muslim terrorists (while no doubt ignoring the staggering number of Americans shot each year by other Americans exercising their right to bear arms). Hardly surprising then that you soak up whatever Uncle Sam tells you without questioning what involvement Angela merkel or the Brazilian state oil company (or Cletus in the trailer next to you) might have in plotting Jihad.

      2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects
        Facepalm

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        "The NSA and US govt lost the "right to privacy" when they decided to start spying on allied leaders,"

        No the US government lost that right when the powers that were decided to overfly Russia and anywhere else they wanted with their U2 aircraft. All my hero, Mr Snowden, has exposed is that highly illegal misuse of drone aircraft is only the tip of the iceberg.

        I thought their submarine cable splicing activities, that were such a massive fail a few years ago, was the wake up call but no, it appears some of us are still in an African river full of crocodiles, hippopotami and bilharzia ...and loving IT.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship..."

      Not really, not anymore. Things are a bit more subtle than that.

      1. dan1980

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        @Nicho

        Sssshhhhh . . . . You're ruining a perfectly good black-vs-white/right-vs-wrong/good-vs-evil world view.

    3. dssf

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

      Just a few years ago, I MYSELF suspected stuff like nightstand, if only because with a good dose of paranoia that leaks from time to time, I once pondered (probably from watching a TV movie or one from Hong Kong or extrapolation of plot events) the use of infiltration radio waves to hijack computers. It is not a far-fetched idea to bring to reality.

      Now, supose that *I* had gone public with it, but only after, say, handing someone $1,000 to rig up a proof of concept against major laptops and desktops and a handful of year 2007 mobiles. Would that make ME a traitor, even though I would have no proof that the tech is or could be in use, but a a much more sophisticated level tha $1,000 might tempt someone to make?

      Watch enough movies and work in tech and allow your mind to feel the fear of characters in movies cornered and angry, and you can eventually start scratch-padding all sorts of things that are likely in play in the real world, but you'd be smart not to try to show who might be the target of such tech.

      MOreover, I became even MORE paranoid/suspicious of it due to periodic reports of police vans containing mini-mobile cell towers, able to hijack comms and equipment. That was public maybe 2008 of 2009. As SOON as that hit the press, anyone in China's military elite ignoring it would be a fool. So, I suspect China -- if up to that point it had done nothing -- probably began R&D to find out their own susceptability. After all, China has been making supercomputers since the 80s or 90s (IIRC), and surely some of their own brightest minds posited such things but had other priorities or dearth of money to pursue it...

      I don't condone nor condemn what Snowden did (as yet, I'm ambivalent. Maybe because since ALL governments lie, outright lie, for their missions, it is a game on THEIR level, and I don't have to take as stand because no country would listen to me one way or another -- aside from stringing me up domestically for being "ambivalent" -- because their missions will just adapt, evolve, improve, or fail), just as with "I can neither confirm nor deny the presence or absence of nuclear veapons aboard the USS (name your ship)" could be in some cases circumvented by states tech savvy enough to backscatter ships entering and leaving port.

      Besides, every compromise just forces tech innovation, and hopefully at some point gets in the way of the REAL bad guys -- the ones stealing credit card numbers, hacking pace makers, and the like.

      And, once again, so long as China OWNS most of the US debt and can plunge the sanctity of the "full faith and credit of the Dollar" down the commode, it is the height of hypocrisy to call one's economic salvation a "mortal enemy", except for public consumption by the weakest of minds. Enough of our politicians gave away the farm only a handful of years ago, yet pretend they didn't facilitate or turn a blind eye. China is (currently) worlds manufacterer of economies of scale choice, and until that changes, China's not going to do anything mortally wounding to change that. OTOH, she probably will do EVERYthing possible to keep the USA from delaying her own slip, and will do everything possible to take and keep that crown. Even in football, no one team keeps on winning and winning and winning... The USA is not the Energizer bunny. Even a $1, 20-minute battery is king if juice is only needed for 10 minutes in a desperate moment.

      I'll pause before I too far in spirals on non-sensicality...

      Just my $1.88...

      1. FormerKowloonTonger

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

        Re:

        "And, once again, so long as China OWNS most of the US debt and can plunge the sanctity of the "full faith and credit of the Dollar" down the commode....."

        Why would the wily Chinese want to destroy the value of all of those U.S. Treasury Bills they're holding?

        1. Cliff

          Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

          >>Why would the wily Chinese want to destroy the value of all of those U.S. Treasury Bills they're holding?<<

          I wondered that too, but thinking about it, what would they do with them? It's a bit like what to you get as a present for the man who has everything?

          I suspect the dollar holding is more use as a threat/negotiating tool than as a currency holding. Anything they could buy from USA they already have and probably manufacture for themselves. It's no secret that The Party gets a copy of all blueprints manufacturers take into China, USA has very little in terms of what they actually need. The dollar holding may actually be more use to keep the US from overreaching.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

            The reason why they dont crash the dollar holdings is twofold:

            1)Why piss in your own chips - you can buy a lot of whatever with that lot.

            2) Send the US into a death spiral and they are going to make North Korea look sane.

        2. CommanderGalaxian
          Boffin

          Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

          >>Why would the wily Chinese want to destroy the value of all of those U.S. Treasury Bills they're holding?

          As a minimum it gives them huge leverage. And if they really wanted to, it gives them the economic equivalent of the nuclear option. Bear in mind, just a few months back when the US government shut down, the Chinese were threatening - the US better keep paying their debts [to us the Chinese] and not default - or else.

          Once upon there was an empire called Rome - it was big and powerful and subjugated peoples paid 'tribute' to the Romans. Then Rome grew fat and lazy and thought they could keep their enemies at bay by reversing the whole process and paying 'tribute' to them. Of course, the Goths and the Vandals and the Huns saw this for what it was - weakness. And the rest is history.

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

            "Of course, the Goths and the Vandals and the Huns saw this for what it was - weakness. And the rest is history."

            Funnily enough the first thing the Vandals did after taking over Rome was to start repairing the infrastructure - it hadn't been maintained for a couple of centuries and was on the verge of falling apart.

            I wonder if the same thing would happen this time around (all those collapsing bridges...)

          2. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

            Not really; power is what power does.

            "Rome was big, powerful and subjugated people. Then Rome grew fat and lazy and thought they could keep their enemies at bay by reversing the whole process and paying 'tribute' to them. Of course, the Goths and the Vandals and the Huns saw this for what it was - weakness. And the rest is history."

            Get your history right.

            A powerful state can take what it wants and do what it likes no matter how fat and lazy it gets. (If it can just magically handle that waive. I think you have a ghost in your machine.) What happens is thast internicene shenanigans takes the steam out of good politics and you end up with dimwits and hooligans who drive the ship of state onto the rocks.

        3. John Sanders

          Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

          """Why would the wily Chinese want to destroy the value of all of those U.S. Treasury Bills they're holding?"""

          Never underestimate the radical-left stupidity.

        4. DiViDeD

          Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

          "Why would the wily Chinese want to destroy the value of all of those U.S. Treasury Bills they're holding?"

          I don't know, but I can posit several possibilities. Whether they are probabilities, who knows?

          1. To destroy the despised capitalist americans and bring them to their knees, thus proving the superiority of the workers paradise in a final and decisive manner (I have to admit this one is highly unlikely to have any roots in reality, but fits in well with the way merkins would like to believe that communists think)

          2. To leverage their position in trade negotiations, land talks, political matters of all kinds. In fact, this doesn't even require that they destroy the currency. Just needs a few officials to publicly state what a shame it would be if Chinese investors were to lose confidence in US Treasury bonds and try to dump them into the market.

          3. Because it doesn't matter to the Chinese. As a people they have never been driven by thoughts of short term gain or loss. Look at what they've been doing in Africa for the past 20 years - investment in infrastructure, healthcare and education entirely at Chinese expense, with no timetable set for repayment.

          If the Chinese did get offended by the NSA spying on them, concern about possible losses on their investments would not prevent them pulling the plug on US debt.

          Just saying

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right... ExCUSE me?

        As far as I can tell, this is any USB peripheral modified to include hacking into the PC and transmitting data out by radio. How it works at a range greater than most Wi-Fi from a receiver puzzles me.

        So it looks like a USB memory stick, but once you plug it in, it does other things too, e.g. install itself as a "keyboard" that types in messages from the NSA.

        By the way: I'm not mad. Well, not mentally ill. I am annoyed.

    4. Bloakey1

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship which oppresses its people in general and minorities in particular; it menaces the liberty of the people of Taiwan."

      <snip>

      Right, errr and America is? I would put it to you that one is no better than the other albeit that the US has a wider spread empire.

      The NSA deserves all it gets. It is not fulfilling its legal mandate and is branching out in a way that the CIA tried in the 50s and 60s. the moment it started spying on all and sundry it set itself up for a fall.

      Disclosure no surprise and a normal extrapolation from the Tempest concept.

    5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship which oppresses its people in general and minorities in particular; it menaces the liberty of the people of Taiwan."

      Yeah, so what are you gonna do about it? Cruise around with yer faggot Carrier Battle Groups like a German Kaiser steaming around in front of Murocco?

      I may remind you that it was the US that invented the plan to kill 250 million chinese as collateral damage by "bomb as you go" SAC sorties -- in case of a war with Russia, You can never be too sure.

      Now shut up, admire how PRC finances the US government and go brownnose the progessive Hillary-Obama duo. Maybe you can get a fine job in their "Pivot to Asia" program.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        Talking of killing, I found this article in a newspaper called the Florida Weekly. I was on holiday there at the time. I brought the paper home then found the article online :

        http://fortmyers.floridaweekly.com/news/2013-11-06/Opinion/The_rising_resistance_to_Obamas_drone_wars.html

        An nteresting article.

    6. Psyx

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship which oppresses its people in general and minorities in particular; it menaces the liberty of the people of Taiwan."

      So your media tells you. Just as their media tells them that we are the aggressors. But that's ok: Neither of us have been there and we can totally take Murdoch's word on it, because he's a nice guy.

      I'm not seriously saying that China is a happy place of freedom, but I am saying that you are blithely painting your own team as the good guys, despite the fact that China isn't the one currently sticking its military into other nations.

      "Remember the time, not long ago, when an American airplane over international waters was disabled by a Chinese pilot, forcing it to land on Chinese territory - causing the plane, containing classified technology, to be taken apart while in China?"

      I also remember all of the totally illegal flights over Chinese territory and invasion of their airspace by American recon aircraft. How do you justify that level of aggression?

      "But at this point, the people who have been saying from the start that he deserves to be shot as a traitor finally have something they can point to."

      Bullshit. This isn't a revelation. You acknowledged that you are a layperson in the field and hence only know what the media tells you. So how do you make the judgement that this is a step too far?

      Truth is, everyone knows that even an airgap doesn't secure a system and never has. Do you honestly think China hasn't figured it out and takes precautions, too?

      1. dan1980

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        @Psyx - "I also remember all of the totally illegal flights over Chinese territory and invasion of their airspace by American recon aircraft. How do you justify that level of aggression?"

        I am not a US (nor Chinese) citizen but it's interesting to me how some people think in the US. The argument seems to go that the US can be trusted (and should be allowed) to break to rules because it has the moral high ground.

        The point I can't help feeling they have missed is that you only have the moral high ground if you follow the rules - even when they don't suit you. Especially when they don't suit you. Once you start doing the wrong thing, you lose your claim to that moral high ground.

        I am reminded of Shep Smith's righteous rant about torture. To paraphrase and condense, he said:

        "I don't care if it's effective - we don't torture."

        "If you want to be the shining city on the hill, we don't get to torture."

        "This is America; we don't f$%king torture!"

        While torture and spying are different beasts, the generalisation is that you don't get to claim the moral high-ground if you break the rules and you don't get to claim to act for the people if you do things they don't agree with.

        If you've not seen this epic rant, then I highly recommend you seek it out.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship"

      They are not a totalitarian dictatorship...

      They are a People's Democratic Dictatorship, which is a big difference,

      mainly because they have a hierarchical electoral system, so yes they have local votes, but in reality it is unlikely a non CPC member will get elected, although it happens, the reason being if you want to get into power you join the CPC, there are people in the CPC who took part in protests in China, they know change takes time...

      Anyway democracy is over-rated, when did choosing a leader in the UK make the slightest bit of difference?

      Labour get in, they spend all the money, Conservatives get in, they save money, Labour get back in and they spend the money....

      1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson
        Joke

        To quote the king of the swamp in the Holy Grail

        "Let's not bicker about who killed who"

        Good guys or bad guys? I counsel impartiality: Do not trust any politician

      2. P_0

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        mainly because they have a hierarchical electoral system, so yes they have local votes, but in reality it is unlikely a non CPC member will get elected, although it happens, the reason being if you want to get into power you join the CPC, there are people in the CPC who took part in protests in China, they know change takes time...

        Yes, never mind the fact that the largest army on earth, the PLA, is the military wing of the CPC. That's just a happy coincidence.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship which oppresses its people in general and minorities in particular"

      So finally following America's lead in this space then....

    9. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      And EU trade offices? Are you going to tell us the EU is a totalitarian dictatorship too?

    10. Oh Homer
      Mushroom

      Re: "China is a totalitarian..." blah, blah, blah.

      Every criticism applicable to China is also applicable to the US ... ten times over. How many wars has China waged recently, for example? How many countries has it invaded? How many children has it murdered with killer drones?

      If you want to rant about totalitarian regimes, I suggest you start with the worst, the one that represents the biggest threat to the rest of us, the one that, for example, has the dubious distinction of being the the only country in history to deploy a nuclear weapon in warfare. On a civilian population. Twice.

      China is the least of our problems.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: "China is a totalitarian..." blah, blah, blah.

        They have invaded:

        Vietnam

        Korea

        Tibet

        Several small islands.

        And had a small war with India.

        1. Psyx

          Re: "China is a totalitarian..." blah, blah, blah.

          "They have invaded: Vietnam, Korea, Tibet, Several small islands. And had a small war with India."

          None recently. And in the same timespan, we can also cite America for: Grenada, Panama, Iraq (twice), 'Stan, Viretnam, Korea, Haiti, Yugoslavia, the Dominican Republic, and an attempt on Cuba.

          1. Oh Homer
            Headmaster

            Re: "China is a totalitarian..." blah, blah, blah.

            It's even more extensive than that. It's also worth bearing in mind that the US spends over 17 times more on warfare, per head of population, than China.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: "China is a totalitarian..." blah, blah, blah.

          "They (china) have invaded..."

          Perhaps one should look at how many countries the USA has invaded - starting with Canada - and let's not forget that small war with Spain, started by a newspaper baron after a US Navy ship's boiler exploded whilst in Havana port, in order to sell more papers.

    11. Alan Johnson

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      The US spy plane was flying right on the border of chinese airspace playing a game of chicken with the chinese airforce pilot who was trying to ensure the US spy plane did not enter chinese airspaces when both planes collided. The chinese plane and pilot were lost the US plane was only damaged.

      It is very unclear and probably unknowable whether the US pilot, chinese pilot or both made the fatal mistake but the entire situation was instigated by the aggressive and provocative actions of US spy planes flying straight at the border of chinese airspace and seeing how they reacted.

      Potrraying this as chinese agression is very misleading

    12. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      "The People's Republic of China is a totalitarian dictatorship which oppresses its people in general and minorities in particular; it menaces the liberty of the people of Taiwan."

      Whilst the US has the highest prison population per head of any country in the world, and highest total prison population, way more than China does. In particular, one in ten black American males is a prison inmate, around ten times the imprisonment rate of the general population. US prisons are run as for-profit organisations, offering cheap labour and often undercutting privately owned businesses, such that a large portion of Us manufacturing is actually produced by what is essentially forced labour.

      People in glass houses, and all that.

      1. Psyx

        Re: Proving His Enemies Right

        "Whilst the US has the highest prison population per head of any country in the world, and highest total prison population, way more than China does."

        To be fair; China saves prison space by flat-out shooting severe offenders.

    13. Anonymous Coward
      Black Helicopters

      Re: Proving His Enemies Right

      @ John Savard,

      You are right in the sense that this disclosure tipped the NSA's hand as to methods. However, to say that we shouldn't know that our government can compromise even AIR-GAPPED computers, at the MANUFACTURER level is pretty damned important news on the privacy, civil liberties and IT security fronts. I don't mind so much that the NSA can do this, there are crooks and dictators and terrorists and hostile intelligence agents out there that richly deserve to be surveilled.

      However, I would like there to be real disclosure on when and how these operations happen, and how are they authorized and who authorizes them and where they have happened in the past. Putting a bug in Kim Jung Il's Playstation = OK by me. What worries me is what, if anything, REALLY prevents putting a bug in somebody's tablet or laptop because they are a civil liberties activist, or are pushing for defense budget reduction, or are involved in some other perfectly legal political cause that just doesn't happen to agree with the agenda of the NSA and it's masters.

  3. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

    So the Chinese military will make it a standard procedure to enclose their air-gapped systems in Faraday cages.

    [Wasn't this one of the things revealed by Der Spiegel and Jacob Appelbaum - and reported by El Reg - a couple of weeks ago? Recycling, eh?]

    1. Ted Treen
      Pirate

      @T. F. M. Reader

      Not just the Chinese military:-

      "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."

      In other words, pretty much of the rest of the world. And I thought "Team America: World Police" was satire...

    2. Psyx

      "So the Chinese military will make it a standard procedure to enclose their air-gapped systems in Faraday cages."

      Dude: Everyone ALREADY DOES.

  4. Ben 50

    What's truth?

    Every empire spends billions attempting to present itself as a benevolent force for good - both to its own people and those it is conquering.

    A constant trickle of facts emerge over time from various possible sources - journalists, insiders, personal experience - which show these messages to be propaganda and hypocrisy.

    Snowdon has just delivered one of this generation's defining puzzle pieces (as Ellsberg did before him in the Sixties), but it will be forgotten soon enough as any national government worth its salt sets the message and tone in the long run - they establish what the majority will think and feel is real unless they question it (...and yes, there's a whole field of research dedicated to how this happens).

    So, was Snowdon wrong to provide another small puzzle piece exposing the hypocrisy and lies of the U.S. being a free and democratic country operating within the law as a global force for good?

    The founders of the U.S. were well aware of these issues. For them, Government is for the People - not the other way around. At *least* since Nixon (although Eisenhower's warnings about the influence of the Industrial-Military complex in the halls of power is perhaps more relevant), the corruption feared by the American Constitution because strong enough for those that are Governing to regard themselves above the People.

    Now, the U.S. Secret Police regard themselves above Government, with or without Snowdon, it's the beginning of the end for the U.S. empire in the long run. The military and oil boys have already brought the U.S. to the brink of financial and moral bankruptcy. Democracy, as a means of systematic adjustment based on honest feedback from the needs of its people as they sample the environment around them is not possible, when the foxes are running the hen house. After all, can anybody here point to a Secret Police anywhere in the world, or through their actions in history, whose primary function isn't support of the ruling class rather than even the government of the day, let alone the people?

    Snowdon is providing a last gasp opportunity for those in American who believe in Democracy, to react and slap the NSA, and the Military, back into their corner (which I doubt is still possible).

  5. Eponymous Cowherd

    Sceptical

    A device that can transmit 8 miles to a briefcase sized receiver is going to need considerable RF output power (several hundred mW).

    You could certainly derive such power from a USB port and conceal such a transmitter in larger USB devices, but the problem is it will be eminently detectable, both from an RF point of view, and from a software point of view when, say, a keyboard presents itself as something other than an HID.

    Its not that this stuff couldn't have been done. I just feel is is highly unlikely that it could be done without some inquisitive individual finding it.

    1. Uffish

      Re: Sceptical

      That's why I think that the Snowdon 'revelations' have done no harm at all.

      1. Bloakey1

        Re: Sceptical

        "That's why I think that the Snowdon 'revelations' have done no harm at all."

        I have been involved in some schemes in my day and I was often told that when people assume that you are lying, the truth become irrelevant and can be told.

        Some of his disclosures do seem to have a whiff of disinformation about them and young Julian has now become an irrelevance. Job done!

        I would really start to worry if they could put a device in my Bacofoil (tin foil for you foreign johnnies) chapeau {hat for you non garlic munching coves} or if they developed a successful algorithm to crack ROT13 .

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sceptical

      Do not ruin rampant paranoia. It is such a surprise that a government might target another to find out what they are doing? That is what diplomacy is about and certainly what espionage does.

      When will we get a Sowden Li running from his Chinese/Russions.Nork/whatever masters to hear how wonderfully honest they are and how they never do anything like the USA's Snowden suggests.

      I'll put down my Enid Blyton book of spy fairy stories now, the one ghost written by a failed junior spy explaining how only the West seeks to look after its interests. I do not need any more fiction as I am now fully up to date with all the cr*p I need today from reading much of the above bedroom fantasy stuff.

      For all you paranoid conspiracy theory pluggers. Who has experience bomb plots killing people in our buildings and transport? Oh yes we did in London, why, because intelligence was missed. I am more than happy for someone to look for the needles in hay stacks needed to stop such atrocities. Somehow the thought of being blown up, maimed or killed feels much worse than some one scanning email headers to see IF I'm writing to some dodgy character with murder on their tiny mind.

      1. Eponymous Cowherd

        Re: Sceptical @AC 07:55

        Superb Strawman, there.

        My point has nothing to do with whether spying on private citizens is wrong or right ( I happen to think it's wrong ), or the rights or wrongs of Edward Snowden's actions ( I happen to think his actions did far more good than harm ).

        My point was merely that, in this case, I am sceptical about the veracity of this spying tech.

        1. Cliff

          Re: Sceptical @AC 07:55

          Inclined to agree it does sound outside the boundaries of practicable, more CSI than Sweeney. Maybe it's just inside, maybe it is super clever, maybe it's in daily use - if so, I'm impressed and it'd be great to see civilian uses derived from that technology emerging.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Sceptical @AC 07:55

          Two points.

          1) Yes I agree that the Walter Mitty rubbish being spouted is rubbish.

          2) When does prudence cross the line. For many years suspect encounters have been logged - several entertainers were suspected of all sorts of dodgy connections and I am not talking about Jimmy Savill.

          Is it unreasonable for those in contact with known 'risk elements' to be detected and then be observed?

          Since I think we might agree on some of the exaggerated hardware suggestions being frankly daft, do we also agree that no one is reading every e-mail and listening to every phone call everyone makes? However, finding out that someone has regular contacts with a bomb maker, explosives seller/maker, etc. just might warrant closer examination.

          The poor success rate of video systems is not a great advertisement for such devices, but the odd successful recovery of stolen kit when it observes the criminal user at play has been hailed as good news in some quarters. Or is that a malign use of technology? Not being a so called smart technology phone tablet or whatever user I can almost remain neutral. Though I believe that theft is theft and that murder is murder. I realise others do not agree and I am uncomfortable in their world.

          1. Intractable Potsherd

            Re: Sceptical @AC 08:08

            "Though I believe that theft is theft and that murder is murder. I realise others do not agree and I am uncomfortable in their world."

            Interesting - I *know* that the world isn't that black and white, and that all of us would be uncomfortable in such a world.

            I also don't consider the risk of terrorist attacks, either in terms of planning or the minimal loss of life and health to the general population, adequate to justify the amount of wholesale spying on the population by the government of that population. The only excuse that the government can give is that, in actual fact, they are worried that significant numbers of the population are going to revolt at some time in the near future - in which case the government should be changing what it does, not tightening the fist on the dissatisfied.

          2. Intractable Potsherd

            Re: Sceptical @AC 08:08 again

            Perhaps not entirely coincidentally, I read Bruce Schneier's Crypto-Gram newsletter after reading this. He puts it thus:

            "The NSA's collect-everything mentality is largely a hold-over from the Cold War, when a voyeuristic interest in the Soviet Union was the norm. Still, it is unclear how effective targeted surveillance against 'enemy' countries really is. Even when we learn actual secrets, as we did regarding Syria's use of chemical weapons earlier this year, we often can't do anything with the information.

            "Ubiquitous surveillance should have died with the fall of Communism, but it got a new -- and even more dangerous -- life with the intelligence community's post-9/11 'never again' terrorism mission. This quixotic goal of preventing something from happening forces us to try to know everything that does happen. This pushes the NSA to eavesdrop on online gaming worlds and on every cell phone in the world. But it's a fool's errand; there are simply too many ways to communicate.

            "We have no evidence that any of this surveillance makes us safer. NSA Director General Keith Alexander responded to these stories in June by claiming that he disrupted 54 terrorist plots. In October, he revised that number downward to 13, and then to 'one or two'. At this point, the only 'plot' prevented was that of a San Diego man sending $8,500 to support a Somali militant group. We have been repeatedly told that these surveillance programs would have been able to stop 9/11, yet the NSA didn't detect the Boston bombings -- even though one of the two terrorists was on the watch list and the other had a sloppy social media trail. Bulk collection of data and metadata is an ineffective counterterrorism tool.

            "NSA-level surveillance is like the Maginot Line was in the years before World War II: ineffective and wasteful. We need to openly disclose what surveillance we have been doing, and the known insecurities that make it possible. We need to work toward security, even if other countries like China continue to use the Internet as a giant surveillance platform. We need to build a coalition of free-world nations dedicated to a secure global Internet, and we need to continually push back against bad actors -- both state and non-state -- that work against that goal." (Originally posted at www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/01/how-the-nsa-threatens-national-security/282822/)

            That just about sums it up for me.

      2. NumptyScrub
        Unhappy

        Re: Sceptical

        quote: "For all you paranoid conspiracy theory pluggers. Who has experience bomb plots killing people in our buildings and transport? Oh yes we did in London, why, because intelligence was missed. I am more than happy for someone to look for the needles in hay stacks needed to stop such atrocities. Somehow the thought of being blown up, maimed or killed feels much worse than some one scanning email headers to see IF I'm writing to some dodgy character with murder on their tiny mind."

        "They who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." Benjamin Franklin, attributed 1755

        I agree with the old dude above; I'm perfectly comfortable taking responsibility for my own safety, rather than demanding someone else do so for me. I am uncomfortable with government poking its nose in my personal affairs when it has no reason (I am not a terrorist) or excuse (I am guaranteed a right to privacy by the ECHR, which my government has signed up to).

        You seem to be pushing for more of a "guilty until proven innocent" type of surveillance regime, where the actions and correspondance of citizens are automatically deemed criminal until and unless they have been scrutinised and pronounced clean. This is the oft overlooked corollary to the "nothing to hide, nothing to fear" mantra; it is a presumption of guilt that something hidden must in fact be something illegal, rather than simply something embarrassing or personal.

        Note: no method of surveillance is 100% effective, so regardles of how invasive our surveillance services are, there will be terrorist attacks that manage slip through the net. Given I am far more likely to die from pretty much anything other than a terrorist attack, I would much rather be able to keep myself to myself, thanks.

    3. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Sceptical

      XBee have a range of piddly little chips that can allegedly get that sort of range. Yes they need an antenna to do so, but I imagine you could piggyback on to the wireless antenna - you've got physical access already, right? As for RF, sure it would be if you're looking for RF. So set the device to only transmit when the laptop is at the owners home, not when it's in the TEMPEST protected room at the office.

      And USB devices can present themselves as multiple devices - they can mimic a hub, for example, or they can can present themselves as a dual keyboard-and-disk if they want to. If that disk has an autorun script which immediately unmounts itself, you'd never notice it was there.

      I totally agree a bit of scepticism isn't unwarranted here, but technically it's quite possible.

    4. Robin Bradshaw

      Re: Sceptical

      I was sceptical too however I had a look at the NSA's "maplin" catalogue of cool toys here:

      http://goo.gl/nPZf18

      It appears that some of their data transmission devices such as LOUDAUTO and other devices from the ANGRYNEIGHBOUR range are long range RFID type devices that modulate their data onto a CW signal from the reader, sort of like the TAG used for paying the severn bridge, or the same sort of tag they use in the US for toll payments if my understanding is correct.

      Which is a really clever way of doing things as the energy burden for transmission is then shifted to the reader rather than transmission device so you dont need massive batterys.

      Sadly my knowledge of RF voodoo is a bit lacking or id have a bash at replicating the tech as it seems simple yet very clever, although It got me wondering if sites of security importance are going to be buying SDR radios to continuously scan the RF spectrum and alert if there are suddenly any large changes in recieved power in the GHz range, which would also catch active transmissions from their HOWLERMONKEY devices. Its all quite clever really.

      And thats just the RF stuff, do the server jockeys on here trust their IPMI implementation (vPro etc)

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Sceptical

        Given the claimed number of devices out there the question must be: when will someone actually discover one and go public? Perhaps the press need to issue a reward?

    5. Phil Endecott

      Re: Sceptical

      > A device that can transmit 8 miles to a briefcase sized receiver is going

      > to need considerable RF output power (several hundred mW).

      > it will be eminently detectable

      They use something that they call "continuous wave radar". Essentially, the bug contains a FET with the gate connected to the signal being monitored and the source connected to ground. The drain is open (and I guess might have a small aerial). This doesn't actually radiate anything, and so isn't detected by the obvious bug sweeping methods.

      The briefcase contains a powerful microwave transmitter and directional antenna, which is used to "illuminate" the bug. When on, the FET absorbs the microwaves - but because it only conducts in one direction, the current that flows has a half-cycle waveform. The effect is that it re-radiates on various harmonics of the illuminating frequency, with an amplitude that depends on the gate voltage. This re-radiation is received back at the briefcase.

      This can be connected up to a low-frequency signal like a keyboard connection, RS232, etc. quite easily. Monitors can also be observed because although the signals are high-frequency you can integrate over many frames to build up the image (and it doesn't need to be pixel-perfect). Things like ethernet, SATA and high-speed USB would be more difficult, but probably still possible at shorter ranges.

      > I just feel is is highly unlikely that it could be done without some

      > inquisitive individual finding it.

      They have VGA cables where the bug is inside the ferrite bulge, and they have PCB-mounted USB/ethernet sockets where the bug is built into the socket. They are able to intercept your new computer in the post and fit these things. I think those would get past most "inquisitive individuals".

      Do have a look at the leaked PDF linked in one of the earlier comments - and do remember that that is now 5 years old.

    6. P_0

      Re: Sceptical

      Its not that this stuff couldn't have been done. I just feel is is highly unlikely that it could be done without some inquisitive individual finding it.

      I too am skeptical about this, and the fact that none has been discovered.

  6. frank ly

    I've heard .....

    ... that the NSA has magnets on its feet and that it has four arses.

    1. hplasm

      Re: I've heard .....

      Not sure about the magnet feet, but I'm certain it has many more arses than that, working for it.

    2. Bloakey1

      Re: I've heard .....

      My wife has two arseholes and I am one of them.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. hidden transmitters

    Also feasible is to store up power in an ultracapacitor and then send a burst of RF over a large domain such as the H alpha band which is inherently noisy, but spreading out the signal in such a way to make it below the noise floor.

    Has anyone considered this?

    I have schematics for just such a device, originally intended as a balloon transmitter that didn't violate the licence free requirements so it would send back compressed atmospheric data once every half hour.

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: Re. hidden transmitters

      I have been thinking along similar lines.

      What about the PRR radio used by the Brits and quite a few others. It is spread spectrum on 2.4 ghz and can do quite a distance on line of sight although it is low power and spread spectrum to enhance it's security. there are no licensing issues using this kit as it is on a common frequency and there is a mass of other devices transmitting on the same frequency that can successfully obfuscate it.

      Now imagine if you will a spread spectrum device using a common frequency hidden among the clutter of common devices. How would you pick up the signal? your scanning gear will only ever see a portion of the spread and separating it from the clutter would be both interesting and challenging.

      On the other hand the RF could be ULF or something exotic that is not easily detectable unless you have very specialised kit.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Re. hidden transmitters

      Would such noise still exist in a Faraday cage?

    3. Uffish

      Re: Re. hidden transmitters

      Sure they have some really cool kit, and some really brave operators in the field, and after all it's their job to produce and make use of such marvels. Stuxnet and its implementation was very clever and also apparently very successful. But the deployment of these things are handicapped by the fact that once one is discovered the rest rapidly become much less useful until a new and better gadget can be created.

      My opinion, and probably Ms Merkel shares my opinion, is that indiscriminate mass spying (collecting the haystack to get at the needle) is ineffective, is probably used for other purposes than security needs, and just plain pisses off everyone. The USA has already decided that gunboat diplomacy doesn't work, I think that they will find that blanket, indiscriminate spying won't work either.

  8. An nonymous Cowerd

    when I first tested ultrawideband in my lab

    I got reliable 20 metre distance 100's of megabit/s comms, but even though I knew the UWB-RF was there I couldn't find it on my Tek Real-Time Spectrum Analysers - until...

    a) I brought in a 1.25 metre diameter gibertini TVRO dish focussed from 1 metre away at the UWB access point

    b) added a Miteq SOTA WB LNA and wa5vjb PCB LP antenna at the feed point.

    The UWB RF grass then finally started to become evident. I guess modern TLA agencies use this sub-nanosecond RF pulse-formed data-comms, possibly in addition to the standard piezo exotic audio frequency air-gap bypass.

    My question of the day:Can you fit a very large parabolic antenna system on the counter-ELINT trolley in the warm corridor of a datacentre?

    what does NYT mean by "trade institutions inside the European Union", EFTA?, DG RTD??, DG TREN??? - terribly radical places!

  9. Neil Barnes Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Of course, it could all be double-bluff

    The NSA doesn't necessarily *have* the technology, but arranges via Snowden to leak that it has, causing its putative foes to either revert to paper and mechanical typewriters (as it has been reported the Russians have done) or to develop their own computer hardware from the chips up...

    1. Bloakey1

      Re: Of course, it could all be double-bluff

      "The NSA doesn't necessarily *have* the technology, but arranges via Snowden to leak that it has, causing its putative foes to either revert to paper and mechanical typewriters (as it has been reported the Russians have done) or to develop their own computer hardware from the chips up..."

      Do not forget that they will need a massive increase in funding so that they can pay to have these wonderful systems phased out or replaced nay even created.

      So they have gone from a Wikkileak to a Dickileak and poor young Chelsea was fingered, shafted and subsequently banged up. Julian is also sorted. Why bother going through due process when the guy has banged himself up and saved everybody the effort.

    2. P_0

      Re: Of course, it could all be double-bluff

      And what does Snowden get out of this? Apart from giving up a high paying job and a super hot girlfirend, to live on Russian state handouts.

  10. dan1980

    A license to do what they please and no oversight - perfect combination

    The problem with the NSA is not that they are spying on any given nation or person or for any given (potentially valid) purpose or that they possess any given technology for doing so.

    The problem is that, as shown by these releases, the NSA combines their high level of technology and seemingly endless funding with direction so removed from public* expectations that can it can only be described as utterly a-moral.

    I am not a US citizen so I have limited ability to comment on this but to me it seems that the NSA is like some stereotypical over-protective stalker, going through mail to make sure things are okay and taking baseball bats to anyone they think is looking shifty. Being protected is often welcome, but the person being protected should have some say in what is being done to provide that protection.

    It seems that those involved in "National Security" have forgotten that the 'nation' they are supposed to be securing is nothing more than the people and their values.

    If those people don't agree with what the NSA is doing and feel that their activities are not only a betrayal of their trust but also the values they hold dear, then I think it should be clear that it's time for a serious re-evaluation. (Well past time.)

    In the past, the NSA and those responsible in the government could carry on in their belief that what they were doing was in the best interests of its citizens; that their means, however questionable and however invasive, were justified by the ends they thought so lofty.

    They were safe in those beliefs because they never gave the people a chance to disagree with them.

    Thanks to Snowdon and the steady feed information about what they are doing, they can no longer pretend that they occupy the moral high-ground and that the people would, if they knew, agree with them. The people know. They do not agree.

    The thing the NSA and the government have to understand - really understand - is that they will never have the full trust of the people again. How can they? A vital part of their role does indeed require complete secrecy so while such an organisation exists, the people can never be sure that the privilege of secrecy is not being abused.

    The guideline for the NSA and indeed the government (any government) as a whole is that they should always try to second-guess what the people would want them to do. They should continually ask themselves what their citizens would think if they knew all the details; if the public were able to vote on every government action, how would they vote?

    Governments won't always get it right - they're only people after all - but that principle must be the guiding light.

    * - The people that they are allegedly serving . . .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A license to do what they please and no oversight - perfect combination

      Let me try a scenario. You work as a bodyguard for someone really stupid but also really rich. Given he's prone to mishap but also paying you well, what would be your MO?

      1. dan1980

        Re: A license to do what they please and no oversight - perfect combination

        Sorry mate, don't follow you there.

      2. Rich 11 Silver badge

        Re: A license to do what they please and no oversight - perfect combination

        what would be your MO?

        Explain things to him very slowly and carefully, monosyllablically if necessary. He's earned that right because at least he's had the sense to hire me.

        Anyway, your analogy doesn't hold up. A country's population isn't all composed of really stupid people -- only half of them are of less than average intelligence, and a significant percentage are going to be more intelligent than half of the people making up the government.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: A license to do what they please and no oversight - perfect combination

          "Anyway, your analogy doesn't hold up. A country's population isn't all composed of really stupid people -- only half of them are of less than average intelligence, and a significant percentage are going to be more intelligent than half of the people making up the government."

          Except we're a representative government elected by majorities. And suppose MORE than half of the population (the majority) IS that stupid? History tells us enlightened individuals are few and far between while the average joe can't think too often between black and white. Meaning they're easily swayed by manipulative types. Now the stupid votes squelch the smart ones, creating what might be called a "tyranny of the stupid. Look at the increasing polarization of legislatures around the country.

      3. Psyx

        Re: A license to do what they please and no oversight - perfect combination

        Advise a holiday in Monaco.

  11. Anomalous Cowshed

    FUD

    Incoming signal: "FUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUDFUD"

    Oooh, matron, it's just interference!

  12. Havemysay99

    Tell me another..

    I'm bored of all this now, so what, what difference will it make. I can only guess what other countries are doing and have been doing for years, its time to call time on the Snowden files.

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Tell me another..

      You'd really like that to happen, wouldn't you, Mr Obama?

  13. fLaMePrOoF

    Edward Snowden's whistle blowing has massively advanced the cause of personal privacy, however, the exposure of this kind of material worries me greatly; up till now ES has been able to say that he has not compromised national security but the revelation of international espionage projects like this most definitely does undermine national security and the capabilities of security agencies.

    On a technical level I find this fascinating, but I can't get past the thought that I / we really shouldn't know this; security agencies and governments deserve to keep SOME secrets :o/

    1. Bloakey1

      <snip>

      "On a technical level I find this fascinating, but I can't get past the thought that I / we really shouldn't know this; security agencies and governments deserve to keep SOME secrets :o/"

      The agencies themselves do not believe that anybody else (be they civilian, military, business, spy etc) deserves any privacy or the right to keep secrets so who cares!

      Stuff the lot of them.

      1. Psyx

        "security agencies and governments deserve to keep SOME secrets"

        And if they hadn't abused their position to a point where a private citizen felt the need to ruin his own life to expose them, it still would.

        Like kids with toys: If they use them for hitting other kids around the back of the head, you take them away.

    2. dan1980

      Harming National Security

      ". . . revelation of international espionage projects like this most definitely does undermine national security . . ."

      That assertion relies on one very crucial assumption - that 'National Security' is served by such actions.

      Even then, that alone is meaningless unless you define 'National Security' clearly. Until you do, you can't say that any given action is beneficial or detrimental.

      That's really what needs to be answered - what particular goals were served by these actions (the spying), and are these goals really in the interests of 'National Security'.

      National Security is a bit like self-defence. It is a valid justification for extreme actions, but only under certain circumstances. You can't claim 'self-defence' if you kill someone because you think they were going to assault you at some point in the future, nor if you hit your partner because they cheated on you.

      That's one of the big gripes about all this - that the government and NSA use 'National Security' as a free pass - a blanket justification for whatever they are doing. The law even allows the President to stop court cases, requiring little more than the assertion that something, something, National Security, something, something.

      If you want to bug the UN or foreign embassies, or tap the phones of heads of state or hack into overseas energy companies' private and confidential files, you need to be able prove how those actions are necessary for National Security and how, had you not taken those steps, the country would be in danger.

      Modifying the analogy that Psyx used, you might carry a pistol for self-defence. Well and good*. However, if you start using that pistol to shoot out your neighbour's windows, or threaten someone who took your parking spot, then the argument that you need ti for self-defence should fall on deaf ears and you should have your permit rescinded.

      That pistol still has a valid use in self-defence but you have proved that you aren't responsible enough to own one.

      Remember: Karate for defense only.

      * - In the US at least.

  14. jason 7

    Ahem..What if all the NSA/Snowden stuff was a carefully planned ruse.....

    ....just to gauge by the powers that be, how the unwashed masses would react to knowing about mass surveillance?

    Depending on the reaction would then give the go ahead one way or another, to new systems.

    From what I've seen so far the powers that be won't have to be too low key about it all.

    I guess they got the reaction they wanted. No one has been lynched and most of the public just shrugged.

    1. dan1980

      Re: Ahem..What if all the NSA/Snowden stuff was a carefully planned ruse.....

      Does the 'unwashed masses' include foreign heads of state and those purchasing US IT equipment in China or signing up for US-hosted 'cloud' services in Europe?

  15. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Coat

    "compromised 100,000 computers around the world"

    Maybe they should have targetted 100,000 computers in China if they wanted to spy on the Chinese ?

    Ok, I got my coat . . .

  16. What? Me worry?

    Sounded a bit familiar. I knew I'd read about this before: Ars Technica had an article on this sort of thing last October. http://arstechnica.com/security/2013/10/meet-badbios-the-mysterious-mac-and-pc-malware-that-jumps-airgaps/

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      I'd also been wondering about the implications for Dragos Riui's claims of airgap jumping malware. I'll keep an eye out for updates.

  17. FormerKowloonTonger
    Trollface

    Think Tank Alert!

    My, oh my, oh MY!

    All of these obviously youthful China "experts" pontificating.........wonder how many could actually find China on a map, or have had any lengthy exposure to "Sino-stuff"?

  18. Nifty Silver badge

    This is as valid as the average urban myth.

    Photos or it never happened.

  19. pacman7de
    Big Brother

    Secret computer technology?

    Is this even technically possible or some kind of NSA damage control exercise. As in, if the perps can never be sure they are being spied on, they're less likely to use 'computers' for communication.

    "There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time" link

    1. Psyx

      Re: Secret computer technology?

      "As in, if the perps can never be sure they are being spied on, they're less likely to use 'computers' for communication."

      No vast difference then from instilling in people the idea that an omnipotent entity can see what they're doing all the time and that if they do something wrong they'll be painfully tortured for all eternity...

      Just sayin': Authorities have always used invisible policemen and fear to keep us in line.

  20. JaitcH
    Thumb Down

    COTTONMOUTH how to make a double stacked USB socket leak data

    Our 'friends' at NSA have a range of products under the COTTONMOUTH label.

    One is a double USB socket stack and hidden under the two sockets is a small data transmitter.

    Non-NSA USB sockets only have pins for attaching to the PCB.

  21. Evil Auditor

    Re Chinese PCs bugged with tiny USB radios

    Did they commission some Chinese factory to produce them?

  22. chris lively

    Wow

    You know, I'm glad most of you aren't head of state. Some of the things posted here are on par with what is expect to hear from Iran or North Korea.

    China doesn't sink the US because we keep their people employed. Plain and simple. Could they do it? Yes. It would probably take less than a week to cause massive uproar and the US couldn't do a damn thing about it. However their leaders are actually pretty smart and level headed. So it isn't going to happen.

    Is there such a thing as a radio the size of a USB stick that can send out a signal strong enough to be picked up 8 miles away? No. If there was anywhere near something like that then wireless manufacturers would have been all over it.

    So calm down. This "release" is just BS.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Other stories you might like

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022