A computer doesn’t need to be online for the National Security Agency to take a peek.
The spy agency has managed to sneak surveillance software onto almost 100,000 computers worldwide, and is even able to use computers that aren’t connected to the Internet for spying and cyberattacks, the New York Times reports. The NSA relies on secret channels of radio waves that are transmitted from tiny circuits and USB cards implanted by NSA-friendly spies or manufacturers to snoop on offline computers.
The NSA targets include units of the Chinese army, Russian military networks, systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, European Union trade institutions, as well as U.S. partners like Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan, the Times reports, in the latest details to emerge from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s leaks.
The spying agency said it does not use implantation software or its radio frequency technology inside the United States, calling the tactics an “active defense” against foreign cyberattacks.
President Barack Obama is reportedly set to announce some curbs on the NSA’s surveillance activities on Friday.