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Researchers expose NSA spying program


Posted on Tuesday, 17 February, 2015 | Comment icon 30 comments

The NSA have been known to employ cyberespionage techniques. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Junior Melo
A security software firm has revealed that spyware has been hidden within the firmware of hard drives.
According to researchers at Kaspersky Lab, a security firm based in Moscow which produces anti-virus software, the NSA has developed an effective new way to install spyware on to computers in countries all over the world by embedding it in to the firmware of popular big brand hard drives.

A study revealed that the spyware was present on computers in more than 30 countries, most notably in Russia, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Yemen, Algeria and Syria.

Targets included telecommunications companies, government employees, military institutions, energy companies, research laboratories, banks and even nuclear power facilities.

The spyware is particularly effective because it is located within the code that executes whenever the device is turned on, allowing it to stay hidden and capable of infecting a computer over and over.

Two former NSA employees have already come forward to confirm the company's findings.

Kapersky have declined to name the specific country behind the spying campaign but have released their data in the hope that it will help to develop a means with which to remove the software.

Peter Swire of President Obama's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technology emphasized that the country should take in to account the potential impact on trade and diplomatic relations before exploiting software vulnerabilities for intelligence gathering purposes.

"There can be serious negative effects on other US interests," he said.

Source: Reuters | Comments (30)

Tags: NSA, Spyware, Hard Drives

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #21 Posted by RoofGardener on 19 February, 2015, 9:07
......Risk doing what? They probably had no choice. The NSA can do pretty much whatever it wants when it comes to espionage. It can force by Law any US-based tech compagny to install a backdoor in it's software. Since nobody but the company has access to the proprietary source code, no one will even notice it. See: http://www.tomsguide...news-17517.html Noooo.... I don't think that is true, Samus. Can you tell me - specifically - which clause of which law permits it to force a US-based software company to modify its products ? I don't think any such law exists. The NSA can request that "backdo... [More]
Comment icon #22 Posted by toast on 19 February, 2015, 10:55
This is an OLD hoax. No it isnt a hoax or do you think that Costin Raiu, Director of Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab, would give interviews in relation to the malware and its threats if it would be just a hoax? And, its assumed the malware was designed by the Equation Group (hackers). No disk manufacturer would risk doing this; they would beinstantly bankrupted. Nobody would every buy their disks again. The malware dont get installed at the OEMs of/to the devices, the devices got infected by trojans later on.
Comment icon #23 Posted by samus on 19 February, 2015, 17:19
Noooo.... I don't think that is true, Samus. Can you tell me - specifically - which clause of which law permits it to force a US-based software company to modify its products ? I don't think any such law exists. I did not say ''modify''. Install, implemant or introduce 'backdoors' for espionage or State surveillance purposes would be my choice of words. It's a bit more dfficult for them to do so, since the new Amendment of 2014 but it would be naive to think that they can't find ways to get what they want. The NSA can request that "backdoors" be introduced, but no major software manufacturer w... [More]
Comment icon #24 Posted by Earl.Of.Trumps on 19 February, 2015, 17:55
Edward Snowden was their plague. If it was not for Snowden, we would have no idea that the NSA has had our cellphones bugged for years. Think about how much power and influence the NSA has over the cell phone manufacturers when they can get them to agree to make the phones to NSA specification - that is, even when OFF the phone will still transmit voice data and the only way you can stop it is to remove the battery. So what did the NSA say to these manufacturers, we will ban your phone in the US if you do not comply? Who actually trusts the NSA KGB West? And again, who the heck trusts the tota... [More]
Comment icon #25 Posted by samus on 19 February, 2015, 17:57
Bear in mind that Microsoft has more money (in its bank account) than the NSA and FBI's combined annual budget. If its core existence was threatened in this way, it could out-lawyer and out-lobby either or both of those organisations. And the publicity could badly damage the NSA (e.g. the public furore could lead to its budget being slashed). We know for a fact that all the big tech giants including Google, Apple, Microsoft, Yahoo, Facebook participated - willingly or not - in the PRISM surveillance program by giving the NSA backdoor access. See: http://www.theverge....ft-others-prism That the... [More]
Comment icon #26 Posted by Raptor Witness on 19 February, 2015, 22:04
If it was not for Snowden, we would have no idea that the NSA has had our cellphones bugged for years. Think about how much power and influence the NSA has over the cell phone manufacturers when they can get them to agree to make the phones to NSA specification - that is, even when OFF the phone will still transmit voice data and the only way you can stop it is to remove the battery. So what did the NSA say to these manufacturers, we will ban your phone in the US if you do not comply? Who actually trusts the NSA KGB West? And again, who the heck trusts the totalitarian American pols that allow... [More]
Comment icon #27 Posted by Socio on 21 February, 2015, 14:02
Most hard drives are manufactured in Asia, namely China, where the spyware would have to be installed, and China is probably the number one country committing industrial espionage, so perhaps the NSA is convenient to point a finger at but makes more since looking at China.
Comment icon #28 Posted by DONTEATUS on 21 February, 2015, 19:06
Its all just a Joke,we need not worry about anything on this Planet ! It`s all going to be gone in a Few years anywho ! Better enjoy that glass of water now !
Comment icon #29 Posted by GoldenRabbit on 22 June, 2015, 7:23
If you're a (so called) conspiracy theorist you read about this being buried in the firmware of your hard drive years ago. This isn't new news IMO. Yeah i can remember reading about this a ages ago, from memory it was one of the smaller manufactures but dont remember which one, ill have to try and find the article
Comment icon #30 Posted by Use your brain on 23 June, 2015, 6:07
Yeah i can remember reading about this a ages ago, from memory it was one of the smaller manufactures but dont remember which one, ill have to try and find the article This study has been going on since 2001 and some hackers found out about it and leaked some information a while back. I can't seem to find it either, rather spooky. I would love to see them run a RAID 0/10 setup and see if this would still work.


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