March 13, 2014 at 1:23 AM
Top-secret documents reveal that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to covertly hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.
The classified files – provided previously by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden – contain new details about groundbreaking surveillance technology the agency has developed to infect potentially millions of computers worldwide with malware “implants.” The clandestine initiative enables the NSA to break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.
Classification markings on the Snowden documents indicate that NSA has shared many of its files on the use of implants with its counterparts in the so-called Five Eyes surveillance alliance – the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia.
The covert infrastructure that supports the hacking efforts operates from the agency’s headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, and from eavesdropping bases in the United Kingdom and Japan. GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, appears to have played an integral role in helping to develop the implants tactic.
The NSA has a diverse arsenal of malware tools, each highly sophisticated and customizable for different purposes.
One implant, codenamed UNITEDRAKE, can be used with a variety of “plug-ins” that enable the agency to gain total control of an infected computer.
An implant plug-in named CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, for example, is used to take over a targeted computer’s microphone and record conversations taking place near the device. Another, GUMFISH, can covertly take over a computer’s webcam and snap photographs. FOGGYBOTTOM records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts. GROK is used to log keystrokes. And SALVAGERABBIT exfiltrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.
October 31, 2013 at 5:04 AM
Human rights attorneys have been discussing the possibility of asylum for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden with left-wing politicians in Germany. The plan being developed involves giving testimony in an official government setting on recent revelations, such as the fact that the United States spied on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone. In return, he would be given asylum.
Jesselyn Radack, an attorney and national security and human rights director of the Government Accountability Project, confirmed the above details as part of an exclusive for Firedoglake.
No asylum offer has been made. No formal application for asylum has been submitted to the German government. However, it does appear this may be a next step.
Snowden was visited by a German politician, and they discussed whether he might enter the witness protection program or be granted asylum. They determined that pursuing the possibility of asylum would be better than witness protection.