In case anyone thought we knew everything about the NSA spying scandal, once again, we have new information about how the government has worked its way into our homes. According to a new report out yesterday, the National Security Agency has been using automated systems to infect computers with malware since 2010. And at times it even pretended to be Facebook in order to perform this installation.
A program codenamed TURBINE contaminated computers and networks with malware “implants” that could spy on users. All of this information has come from new documents leaked by Edward Snowden.
According to this report somewhere between 85,000 and 100,000 implants were deployed worldwide so far.
The agency used what is called “man-on-the-side” attacks to trick users into thinking that they were accessing Facebook, and once they were fooled, the NSA would hack into their computers and extract data from the hard drives.
Facebook claims they had no idea that the NSA was doing this. But the social network also said that it is no longer possible for the NSA or other hackers to attack users that way. Other social networks may be vulnerable still.
The NSA has also apparently used spam emails to infect malware onto computers. And depending on what kind, malware can do anything from using the computer’s microphone to record audio, to recording a computer’s internet history, and even using the camera to take pictures.
In the report, it also states that the NSA has been infecting computers with malware since 2004, but used to do so manually. Now because this has been accomplished remotely, the number of deployments of these infections has risen greatly.
Clearly the NSA hasn’t given up on their efforts to spy into our lives. Obviously we are all just going to have to be careful when downloading new software and using other social networks that are susceptible to this kind of hacking.