NSA team spies, hacks to gather intelligence on targets, report says
National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland.
December 31st, 2013
07:58 AM ET

NSA team spies, hacks to gather intelligence on targets, report says

By Dugald McConnell and Brian Todd

A top-secret National Security Agency team uses spyware and hacking to gather intelligence on targets, according to a new report based on internal agency documents.

According to Der Spiegel, a German magazine that published some of the documents, the unit's interception techniques are worthy of James Bond: intercepting a computer being shipped to a target and installing spyware before it is delivered; supplying an altered monitor cable that transmits everything on a computer's screen to the NSA; or planting a USB plug with a secret radio transmitter.

The unit, called Tailored Access Operations, also uses hacking in addition to spy craft. The most basic method involves phishing, sending an e-mail that lures a target into clicking on it and unknowingly downloading NSA spyware. More sophisticated techniques include identifying exploitable computer vulnerabilities by eavesdropping on a target's error messages; tracking a target's cookies to shadow their Internet use; and even surreptitiously diverting a target's web surfing to phony replica web pages of commonly used sites such as LinkedIn and Facebook.

Agents could use such fake sites both to see what a target is typing and to try to insert spyware on the target's computer, according to cybersecurity expert Michael Sutton at ZScaler, a California-based information technology security company.


Filed under: NSA
soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Leonel Feurtado


    March 4, 2021 at 9:47 am | Reply
  2. Paddle App

    I'd love to know all the types of ways that the NSA gathers information . I want to how the infiltrate computers and how they send data back to themselves .

    June 10, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  3. markodavid

    everybody just type a long string of terrorist buzz words and crash nsa spyware

    January 6, 2014 at 10:14 am | Reply
  4. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    Great work hurting the US for matterrs of vanity.

    January 5, 2014 at 10:55 pm | Reply
  5. Tfthuk Gdgkhk

    sensorship is in full effect now............

    January 5, 2014 at 10:54 pm | Reply
  6. Kraznodar

    One of my uncles made maps for the CIA and the other was a cryptographer for the NSA. Trust me, this is nothing new.

    January 3, 2014 at 4:29 pm | Reply
  7. Kraznodar

    Please note that even though this was published in Germany, the NSA only has jurisdiction in the USA. These are things they did to Americans. Well, mostly to Americans. I'm sure there were some immigrants in the mix.

    January 3, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  8. aurelius

    Well done NSA. You hold the key to a safe and orderly progression of civilization. The world and our society is full of dangerous and destructive people. Keep up the good work.

    January 3, 2014 at 1:57 am | Reply
    • George patton

      Thank you, aurelius. Posted like another ignorant, hateful, dimwitted Tea Partier. This kind of ignorance is what makes the Republicans feel as giddy as sin as well as the "blue dog" Democrats!!! They love it!

      January 3, 2014 at 8:47 am | Reply
  9. insidejob666

    The NSA does not like to work in the open. That is why the DNI lied to Congress when asked if they were actively collecting any information on US citizens in America.

    January 1, 2014 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  10. George patton

    I guess that none of us should be surprised by this ignominy since it's been going on for decades on end. In fact, this is exactly how these current cyber wars got started in the first place. Now Big Brother is watching all of us!!!

    December 31, 2013 at 2:51 pm | Reply
    • Mark Rushing

      How so very true that is, George! Unfortunately, that won't change anytime in the near future, if ever!

      December 31, 2013 at 7:11 pm | Reply

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