NSA Has Ability To Hide Spying Software Deep Within Hard Drives: Cyber Researchers

A sign stands outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Fort Meade, Md. Another release of declassified government surveillance documents is underway as part of an ongoing civil liberties lawsuit. The Obama administration published more than 1,000 pages of once-secret court opinions and National Security Agency procedures on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Nov. 18, 2103. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A sign stands outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Fort Meade, Md. Another release of declassified government surveillance documents is underway as part of an ongoing civil liberties lawsuit. The Obama administration published more than 1,000 pages of once-secret court opinions and National Security Agency procedures on the website of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Nov. 18, 2103. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
A sign stands outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus on Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Fort Meade, Md. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

 

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.

That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.

Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said.

The firm declined to publicly name the country behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberweapon that was used to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. The NSA is the U.S. agency responsible for gathering electronic intelligence.

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