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NSA Elite Hackers Infiltrated Network Equipment

A treasure trove of tools used by NSA hackers for planting backdoors via Cisco, Juniper, and Apple products was unveiled in the latest document leaks from the agency.

It should come as no surprise that the National Security Agency has a special team of top-gun hackers who breaks into systems around the world to spy on its targets. But revelations published by a German magazine about the NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) Group and the agency's homegrown hacking tools shine some light on the scope and expertise of the agency's hacking abilities, including its custom backdoor tools for popular commercial networking equipment and systems.

Der Spiegel reported that the NSA describes the TAO as specialized in "getting the ungettable" with access to "our very hardest targets." According to the report, the hacking team successfully infiltrated 258 targets across 89 countries, and in 2010, executed some 279 different operations.

The report stops short of confirming whether the TAO team was involved in the creation and execution of Stuxnet, the highly targeted malware program that sabotaged uranium enrichment equipment in Iran's Natanz nuclear facility. But it references leaked internal NSA presentation documents on the agency's goals of hacking "servers, workstations, firewalls, routers, handsets, phone switches, SCADA systems, etc."

Read the rest of this article on Dark Reading.

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asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/4/2014 | 6:44:19 PM
Kiss Your Civil Liberties Goodbye
Given that back doors seem to be magically built into software/OS these days, how much of an "elite" hack team could the NSA really have.  Seems to me the writer is giving the 3 letter agency far too much credit. All of this just evidences that Americans no longer are free from the prying eyes of government.  If they want to compile a dossier on your communiques, then it can and will (and has been doing so all along according to Snowden.)
LarryC207
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LarryC207,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2014 | 10:56:37 AM
Digital Detente and Mutually Assured Cyber Destruction
Whatever the NSA'a TAO group can do, the Chinese Unit 61398 can also accomplish, as might a well-funded cadre of hackers-for-hire. The potential for unintended consequences of our hacking--or theirs--is enormous, and the risk of escalation is real. Consider that natural gas industry networks have been hacked into to obtain documentation on the SCADA networks and PLCs that control gas transmission. Then consider that there are simple scenarios by which gas pipelines can be turned into massive incendiary bombs under remote control. The recent Lior Samson novel, Gasline is fiction, but the threat is very real. And, ironically, our own cyber warfare and espionage efforts might well be adding to the risks.

 

--Prof. Larry Constantine, IDSA
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/3/2014 | 3:45:32 AM
Re: NSA protects us; protect us from the NSA
This is not something suprise me - it's just two sides of the coin. The techniques and tools are rather neutral but it depends on how you use them. NSA and similar agencies have permissions by law to do the things. But who will control their behavior to guarantee that they will not become hackers? God knows and it's somehow a threat to all the people. 
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2014 | 4:49:56 PM
NSA protects us; protect us from the NSA
Revelations about the tools used by the NSA in 2008 are disturbing? I think they've improved since then. They may be functioning much like any other attacker, with same means, but the time has come to put some protections in place. The NSA's protection is becoming more dangerous than the threat it was supposed to avert.  

 

 
WKash
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WKash,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2014 | 4:07:35 PM
Chilling detail
Jacob Appelbaum provides a chilling presentation on the ways NSA's elite hacks hardware in a Dec. 30 YouTube video. His remarks are based on the recent Spiegel stories and they are as distubing, to say the least.  It's worth noting the document Spiegel reported on was from 2008, so one can only imagine what tools NSA has come up with since then.

 
kidcampbell71
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kidcampbell71,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2014 | 11:07:17 AM
The internet is broken.....
.....like a brick tossed thru the sash via rocket propelled grenade.  Today, will never be the same.  It's no longer the prowl of some international criminal enterprise, sending you dating profiles, lottery winnings, free gifts and prizes, and the notorius viagra prescriptions to your email junk folders.   Now we have our greater good cracking us open like shelled nuts, under the guise that we should do it before they do.  We are protecting you.  Who exactly is being protected here?  Its akin to running us over as road kill just to merely take care of our wounds.  Once broken, can never be whole again.  Could it be that broken is the way to be?  What's the difference?  Smashed to pieces to be glued whole....or smashed to pieces to merely lay about?  If it means the Lady Liberty standing tall via super glue, I'd rather see the ruin of what once was.  To dream of what used to be, is far prouder than admiring forever broken. Or perhaps I should ready my cardboard and duct tape, to merely prepare for the next lob via grenade?  What a difference a day makes......
SCAQTony
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SCAQTony,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2014 | 10:59:06 AM
The NSA has committed de facto crimes against our tech industry
The purpose of the NSA is to protect politicians and their positions of power only. If the NSA was truly in the business of protecting we citizens, wouldn't child pornographers, slave trafficers, insider traders, corrupt politicians, money launders and the ilk be rounded up like cattle and put behind bars? No, they are free to disrupt.

Instead we have an organization called the NSA whose employees have been known to spy on boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses and ex-spouses and those are the ones that got caught. Who knows what insider trades or blackmail they are peddling.

Can you believe that this country; (in secret of course), passed a law that allows the government to break, contaminate, and load backdoors in both software and hardware for it's own ends thereby violating the freedoms of not our very own the population but everywhere these products are sold.

The only way to stop it is to vote en masse, educate, and talk about it.
anon1988686053
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anon1988686053,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/2/2014 | 10:49:49 AM
Paid for by our tax dollars
I saw the presentation of Jacob Applebaum and I am not only alarmed, but also appalled in what my government is doing to me, and millions of my fellow Americans, all in the name of keeping me safe?

So let me get this straight ....

- My tax dollars are going towards the salaries and equipment for government hackers to hack not only into my accounts (bank, credit card, social networks, emails, etc)

- My tax dollars are going towards the services of the US government hackers to intercept mail, install monitoring devices!

- My tax dollars are going towards the serivices of the US government hacker to find flaws in US company products and services, and they are not informing those companies of flaws in their products and services that could be exploited by other hackers worldwide?

And for all the tax dollars I'm spending, I'm not even suppose to know about any of this?

Am I the only American who is outraged about this or who thinks this is a complete viloation of my personal constitutional rights, or do those even exist anymore?

I think its time to remove from office anyone who supports these traitorist actions including everyone at the NSA/CIA/FBI, Senate, Congress and the White House.
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