March 14, 2014
The National Security Agency (NSA) on Thursday shot down as "inaccurate" a media report that the agency may have planted malware on millions of computers worldwide and even impersonated Facebook and other websites to lure potential targets.
The Intercept news site reported Wednesday that classified documents pilfered by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that the NSA had built technology to automatically infect "potentially millions of computers" around the world with malware in order for the agency to glean data from foreign Internet and phone networks. The so-called implant operation reportedly started out as an isolated program for a few hundred targets, but the NSA over the past 10 years has automated some aspects of the program to reach targets on a wider scale, according to The Intercept.
Dubbed TURBINE, the automated system was built to "allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually," the report quotes NSA documents as saying. Examples included NSA setting up a server posting as a Facebook server to infect a target and grab files from its hard drive, and also using other man-in-the-middle type attacks that reroute victims to the NSA's computers that then inject the "implant" malware.
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