Another alarming find in the documents leaked by Edward Snowden have shown the NSA’s intention to infect millions of computers globally with malware. The malicious implant would siphon data from targeted computers in massive quantities, giving otherwise protected devices an open backdoor.
This appears to be a joint effort by the NSA and the British GCHQ. Listening stations have been placed in the UK and Japan, though the primary center of operations is in Maryland, USA, where the primary headquarter is located.
Originally, this was a small scale operation. A few computers belonging to difficult targets were set to receive implants as part of terrorist investigations. Along the way, new developments provided an automated system that only had to be loosely monitored by humans. This accelerated the program and created TURBINE, the codename for a project that would reach millions of potential targets with these mass produced digital implants.
There are two massive problems with this operation. First is the general issue of privacy and internet users rights, as this is nothing short of a wholesale measure that wouldn’t allow for singular targeting. Many more innocent people would be infected then legitimate threats.
Second, malware on a computer is still malware on a computer. It can undermine security efforts across the web, and create passageways for additional malware not created by the NSA. From there we have significant risks for identity theft, financial theft and much more.
It is amazing, the lengths that NSA will go to at this point. Many of these projects, TURBINE included, have been developed over almost a decade. At no point does anyone seem to have stopped and considered the need for the collection of data on such a large scale, or the consequences of that collection.
This is more than greed, or paranoia, or even violation. It is pure stupidity. In what universe would this kind of mass infection not cause a serious problem? What justifies the thread of vulnerabilities to third party malware by releasing these implants? When the number of potentially guilty targets is so small in comparison to the chaos it could cause, what the hell is the point?
Source: The Intercept