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NSA Can Snoop on Computers Not Connected to the Internet

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Just when you thought you could pull one over on the NSA by using a computer that isn’t connected to the Internet comes word that that won’t necessarily keep you and your data out of the clutches of the US spy agency. In a report from the New York Times, apparently the NSA has found ways to insert technology into non-Internet connected computers that uses radio waves to broadcast that data to a collection station.

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The Times reports that the NSA has installed this technology in over 100,000 computers around the world to do its snooping and also to use as a “digital runway” to launch cyberattacks. Here’s a quote from the report:

The technology, which the agency has used since at least 2008, relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and USB cards inserted surreptitiously into the computers. In some cases, they are sent to a briefcase-size relay station that intelligence agencies can set up miles away from the target.

The technology has apparently been in use since 2008 and requires a physical hands on approach to installing the radio bug. The NSA swears it isn’t being used for domestic surveillance. The NSA also says it does not use this technology to spy on foreign companies for trade secrets, but only for counterterrorism efforts.

Coming as yet another surprise that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone, this report is yet another in a long line of reports springing from the Edward Snowden leaks about US spying and surveillance methods. Now that it seems that practically any computing device, whether connected to the Internet or not, is susceptible to this kind of monitoring, I have expect the next revelation to be that dentists have been installing tiny transmitters in teeth.

 

Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

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