The NSA monitors 100,000 offline computers using radio transmitters

By on January 15, 2014, 12:30 PM
nsa, monitor, quantum, offline, 000, 100, radio transmitters, cottonmouth i

It is widely known that the NSA intercepts communications over the internet, but you may not have known the agency is spying on more than 100,000 computers that aren't connected to the net using radio technology.

According to The New York Times the technology, which is called Quantum, uses covert radio wave channels to transmit data to and from a targeted PC. A tiny circuit board or USB card dubbed Cottonmouth I must be inserted into the target computer, by say a spy or some insider, which then beams data back and forth to a suitcase-sized relay station manned by NSA agents. Experts say, many times these small USB transmitters are put in place before the equipment reaches its destination, at which point agents can access WiFi networks and retrieve and insert data as they see fit from up to 8 miles away.

The NSA is said to be making use of this technology outside of the US in places like Iran and China and to monitor Russian military hackers and other terrorist groups. In fact, it was used by the US to keep tabs on the Natanz uranium plant in Iran, which in turn spearheaded the US stuxnet computer worm initiative against the country.

The technology is said be a little out of date being that it requires some kind of physical interaction with the intended target, other techniques are being developed (like DROPOUTJEEP) and put to use that don't require this kind of potentially dangerous activity. Unlike the dragnet data collecting the agency is constantly accused of, technologies like Quantum actually appear to be of use when it comes to preventing terrorism and other horrible activities.




User Comments: 13

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roxxas2 said:

How the HECK did TECHSPOT find out about this???

davislane1 davislane1 said:

How the HECK did TECHSPOT find out about this???

This story broke in the MSM two days ago...

davislane1 davislane1 said:

The first rule of gov't spy programs applies to this development: Since we've heard about it, it's old tech that they were using at least 10 years before the article says they were. Naturally, this means the real story is to break 15 years from now when we hear they've been using drones to listen to electronic signals on computer hardware to figure out exactly what people are doing on their computers without ever having to come near the devices.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The reason this was useful is because they had to physically plug something into the intended target, this meant they had to choose their target wisely rather than spying on everything in and out of the country.

Guest said:

Arnold Schwarzenegger did exactly this in True Lies................................................in 1994.

amstech amstech, TechSpot Enthusiast, said:

If we are hearing about it now its already been happening for over a decade.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I feel sorry for the dumb-asses that allowed this to take place. Makes me wonder where they are buried.

Guest said:

Of course since most electronic boards are manufactured in China, China probably has had this capability far longer than the NSA and on far more computers! :)

Win7Dev said:

So if Intel made a few custom processors and they just happened to be shipped to certain 'customers'...

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

In other news sources I read NSA has intercepted delivery of items before they reach the end user, done whatever they do, rewrapped indistinguishable to original then shipped them to end user. Also from what I read US military hardware is not supposed to use any chips etc. made in other countries like China. They did some audits though and found out some of their items (god knows, they have everything from ballistic missiles to whatever) had Chinese made chips in them.

davislane1 davislane1 said:

In other news sources I read NSA has intercepted delivery of items before they reach the end user, done whatever they do, rewrapped indistinguishable to original then shipped them to end user. Also from what I read US military hardware is not supposed to use any chips etc. made in other countries like China. They did some audits though and found out some of their items (god knows, they have everything from ballistic missiles to whatever) had Chinese made chips in them.

Long story short: the entire system is just as corrupt and dysfunctional as everyone thinks it is.

anniyan anniyan said:

NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY (NSA) - The new "CYBER TERRORISTS" from U.S...use the computers with caution...hereafter..

Raoul Duke Raoul Duke said:

Sad that a nation that once embraced the constitution and liberty is now alienating all of their allies by their "war on terror". Between drones killing civilians and American citizens and prisons with no judicial process and the overzealousness of the NSA, the USA may find their only ally is themselves.

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