NSA hacks hardware too

National_Security_Agency_headquarters,_Fort_Meade,_MarylandWiretaps and satellite traps, radio transmissions and Internet permissions – the NSA has always excelled at the soft arts of code cracking and message parsing. Everything about the agency, from its Darthian headquarters in Ft. Meade, Maryland to its massive server complex in the wilds of Utah, suggests quiet and studious types pouring over reams of telephone intercepts looking for patterns. But now the NY Times reports that the NSA is also a little bit like a utility-belted cable guy  rummaging around in your basement. Seems the Puzzle Palace likes to mess  with hardware, too.

“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.”

So, not only are the digital bits of your computer unreliable, subject to scooping up by black box routers and compromised network access points, but now you can’t even trust the silicon and copper you bought with your own money – not only is the NSA listening to your computer’s babbling, it has also reached in and attached a “tiny circuit board” or two to your beloved machine – like a secret vasectomy you knew nothing about. Computer virility is wilting all over the world.

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