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Government Privacy Security

How the NSA Plans To Infect 'Millions' of Computers With Malware 234

Advocatus Diaboli sends news from The Intercept about leaked documents which show that the NSA is significantly expanding its efforts to build an automated system to compromise computers remotely. From the article: "The implants being deployed were once reserved for a few hundred hard-to-reach targets, whose communications could not be monitored through traditional wiretaps. But the documents analyzed by The Intercept show how the NSA has aggressively accelerated its hacking initiatives in the past decade by computerizing some processes previously handled by humans. The automated system – codenamed TURBINE – is designed to 'allow the current implant network to scale to large size (millions of implants) by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually.' In a top-secret presentation, dated August 2009, the NSA describes a pre-programmed part of the covert infrastructure called the 'Expert System,' which is designed to operate 'like the brain.' The system manages the applications and functions of the implants and 'decides' what tools they need to best extract data from infected machines."
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How the NSA Plans To Infect 'Millions' of Computers With Malware

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  • crime? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BlazingATrail ( 3112385 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:18PM (#46466407)
    Shouldn't somebody go to jail for this?
  • Re:crime? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:22PM (#46466465)

    Hah. The elite get in trouble for doing something illegal? Was that a joke?

    However, since you pointed out their wrong-doing, you have a chance of being locked up. There is no greater law in these lands than embarrassing or exposing those in power.

  • Re:Skynet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:28PM (#46466549)

    Is there any way to avoid such a thing short of cutting my net connection?

    Wouldn't do much good. They have a plethora of ways to extract information from your computers even if there is no internet connection.

    But I personally have nothing to hide.

    Yes you do. I'm not even going to go on about the "the average person commits 3 felonies a day without even knowing it," speech and instead just point out that everything you do in your private life is just that: private. It is yours, and unless they have a warrant, "they" (whoever "they" may be in your country of choice) should not have access to it under any circumstances. That, and even if you don't think you are a valid target, "they" might disagree. There's a number of people out there that thought they were safe and could trust the system, but you know how that turned out. Most recently, Feinstein is finding that she has been bitten by the very same spy machine she's been feeding, or how about Petraeus' mistress that was exposed through the use of so-called "meta-data."

    However, you're absolutely right that even if someone perceives themselves to not be a target, they should still move towards securing themselves.

  • Re:Skynet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The_Human_Diversion ( 3564171 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:30PM (#46466569)

    Is there any way to avoid such a thing short of cutting my net connection? Generally I am not too worried about the NSA. I think it is BS what they do as far as invasion of privacy. But I personally have nothing to hide. But this has completely changed the small amount of reluctance I had in becoming a "ZOMG da sky iz fallinz!" type.

    The "I have nothing to hide" argument is quite the slippery slope. Do you truly, really, honestly have nothing to hide? Let's put up cameras in every corner of your house, then. Perhaps we can get full copies of your bank statements? You may trust the NSA as a whole, but Snowden already showed that even a single bad apple can ruin a lot of days. What if he leaked compromising information of private citizens as part of his escapades? Would you have something to hide then? Hyperbolic? Sure. But because we've had even just a handful of instances of people having their lives screwed while innocent because surveillance - legal or illegal - uncovered something about them, it's a valid point. Read more. (article about why privacy matters) [chronicle.com]

  • by Are You Kidding ( 1734126 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:32PM (#46466601)
    Is my Kaspersky Antivirus going to find and remove their viruses? Or even better, perhaps some enterprising hacker will write a tool that that sends its own malware back through the NSA bot net and trashes their servers. When I was a youngster "We Have Met The Enemy and He Is Us" was amusing. Now it it taken as a guiding principle by our intelligence services. It's sad.
  • by dweller_below ( 136040 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:36PM (#46466629)
    So, now it turns out that the NSA really was attacking me. Just because I ran the routers and a few other critical things.

    20 years ago, when I first started ranting about the NSA it was mostly theoretical. I ranted because there was no proof they were not evil. The stickers on my laptop's mic and camera were a bit of a joke. People would ask about them and it would give me a chance to rant. That's all I really wanted. A chance to rant from time to time.

    But, now it is clear that all my rants were too conservative.

    Now I am doing IT security for a university. I spend all day attempting to hold off the attacks of foreign governments. Some of those attacks now appear to be my own government. I never really wanted to be this paranoid. And it still appears that I am not paranoid enough.

    When will I ever be able to take off this stupid tinfoil hat?

    Congress keeps railing against money wasted on social programs. It appears the NSA and the CIA are elaborate social programs for sociopaths. Why can't we defund them?

  • Re:Skynet? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WormholeFiend ( 674934 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:38PM (#46466661)

    People with nothing to hide can still get wrongfully convicted with circumstantial evidence.

  • Re:Linux version? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mspohr ( 589790 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:43PM (#46466723)

    Linux is more secure.
    Also, Linux is less of a target.
    I'm glad that I use Linux. I'm also happy that most people don't use Linux.

  • Re:crime? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:45PM (#46466763) Homepage

    Unfortunately, the people most likely to go to jail for this are the people who are letting us know about these abuses of power instead of the people abusing power. The latter will simply cry "TERRORISTS!" at the next Congressional hearing and get (at worst) a sternly worded speech directed at them.

  • Re:Skynet? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @02:47PM (#46466801) Homepage

    Not to mention that many people have something they'd like to hide. Perhaps nothing illegal, but something that would be embarrassing were it to become public knowledge. An agency that spies on everyone is one political move away from threatening to reveal these secrets if you don't tow the line.

  • by H0p313ss ( 811249 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:12PM (#46467093)

    How do we know that the next update on linux is safe?

    Nothing is safe, it never was. A "safe" computer is one with no network behind a locked door where the users have to undergo a full body search before entering the locked room.

    Everything else is suspect. That's how NSA and their partners have worked for decades, get used to it.

  • Re:crime? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hackus ( 159037 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:23PM (#46467245) Homepage


    Oh, I am sorry...you are thinking of JUSTICE. No no...laws apply to YOU..thats JUST US.

    JUSTICE is for anybody not you, and it works this way:

    1) Eric Holder runs guns for the mexican cartels in a act of subverting the law of the land, the constitution by orchestrating heavy arms into very violent people on the Mexican border hoping the chaos that will inevitably follow through with the subversion of law abiding citizens right to bear arms.

    You know, because, if you have border incidents, they don't want people able to defend themselves.

    While this is going on, DHS is plotting to kill every man women and child in the USA through the acquisition of ludicrous amounts of ammo.


    I mean, ammo in the BILLIONS OF ROUNDS. You would need hundreds of MILLIONS of terrorists to justify that sort of purchase.

    Do I need to draw anyone a picture or is it just a coincidence that the population of the USA is about 280 Million?

    280 Million terrorists.

    Yeah, terrorists because you don't like having your money confiscated when the banker cronies come and take it all.

    2) Look at these lawless people and the BANKS THAT SUPPORT THEM.

    New data centers that are funded for criminal industrial espionage, which is the primary activity of the NSA, with PRINTED dollars, because the economy could never afford to build any of this stuff.

    From the NSA data centers to the really outrageous F35 program, which cost about 2 trillion to maintain a world wide fighter force of F35's when fully deployed.
    (Probably more and if they can ever deliver it because they can't get the thing to work.)

    Does anyone know what we collect in taxes? It's about 2 trillion. No really, go look it up. ALL of the collected tax revenue for one year, would go JUST for maintaining a fleet of F35's world wide on all of those bases we have.

    Meanwhile these BANKERS print money and destroy the dollar value and as a result creates mischief. If you spend 2 trillion on air planes, you logically have to print the rest of the money to pay for everything else.

    The SAME MISCHIEF THAT IS GOING ON IN THE UKRAINE right now. Did you see who they hired?

    A Banker. A nice London Banker!

    These people are everywhere and where they go lawlessness follows.

    3) Have you noticed our youth have no where to go? You know why? Well, for one thing the economy is totally managed by the federal reserve.

    The whole thing is rigged. LIBOR. Rigged. Silver Gold Prices, Rigged. Stock Market...


    You tell me how the stock market can be so high when there is virtually no growth ANWYHERE IN THE WORLD, let alone the United States, which has like 35% unemployment.

    You know once upon a time we had laws in place so Bankers couldn't control everything through monopolies. We use to have like a huge number of banks in the USA. Laws were put there so that the banks could not combine and do a EPIC meltdown, or forge any mischief. What do we have now?

    5 banks controlling like 85% of the market? What happens when one of them goes titsup?

    Yeah, remember the Anti Trust laws? Remember the glass steagall laws?

    Yeah they got rid of them. You know why?

    Because they want to steal it ALL that is why, and they don't want to be held accountable for ANYTHING.

    Justice is for JUST US, NOT THEM.

    I am not even going to go into OBAMA CARE, because at this point I am really freaking ticked off at all of this banker mishief and the hollowed politicians from our so called TWO PARTY, really ONE PARTY system.


    Two Party so they can laughably claim you have a choice when you vote.

  • by Riceballsan ( 816702 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:31PM (#46467355)
    While I agree with the fact of the rediculousness of how the government can do crime in many ways that would otherwise be illegal. Equating taxes to it is just plain stupid. Taxes are logical payments for services in which the government can and does provide. IE the roads, the oversight into companies to prove that our food isn't entirely relabeled rat droppings, fire departments etc.. Now is it done perfectly or even well? Not in the least, but no matter what a functioning society is going to need a tax system. Even if a perfect rebuilding of government happened, taxes would absolutely be a necessity.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @03:45PM (#46467509)

    How many Xbox One consoles have sold? Microsoft claims 4 million+. That's 4 million homes that have each willing placed the most sophisticated NSA spy device imaginable in prime position to track the household residents 24/7.

    Microsoft and their NSA partners, when considering the change of policy that allows (in theory) people to use the console WITHOUT either Kinect of an online connection (both originally compulsory requirements), found that market research indicated a 95%+ likelihood of users choosing to use the console in an NSA optimal fashion.

    Essentially, if a person were thick enough to ignore the clear warnings that Microsoft designed the Xbox One to spy on users, they'd actually take a pride in setting up their console according to the NSA guidelines.

    Snowden proves over, and over, and over, and over that the GCHQ and NSA are about every aspect of 'full surveillance', and that those people who don't consider themselves as valid targets are exactly the people the NSA are most interested in hitting. A kid screaming the N-word over and over while playing an online game of 'Call of Duty' may one day be a politician whose vote is sought in support of yet another vile war of aggression. Showing him video of his 'racist' outbursts, and asking him how his electorate might respond to such a 'leak' in the press will gain the vote of 90%+ of all people blackmailed this way.

    Yet the Xbox One goes so much further. A 'super computer' (by the definition of less than a decade back) connects to a military grade sensor that actually measures the speed of light at each pixel, providing for unprecedented analysis of movement in the room. The Xbox One can be trivially taught to recognise any common pattern of movement (especially the rhythmic movements associated with sexual activity), and begin recording/uploading when such a trigger happens.

    Every Xbox One is continually running facial and voice recognition services. And the result of these calculations is uploaded daily to NSA servers in the cloud. NSA computers, mostly using algorithms designed by Google for this purpose, process the facial photographs and voice samples to extract better identification information. The NSA goal is to know who enters/leaves every room with an Xbox One, and when.

    The NSA NEVER, EVER, EVER needs hacking or 'trojans' to control the Xbox One computer system. Microsoft provides the NSA with a copy of every Xbox One encryption/authorisation key, so EVERY single online console 'phones home' to NSA servers, and any one of these consoles can be instantly remotely controlled by an NSA agent.

    The NSA has far more than its 'fair' share of paedophiles. These individuals have unlimited access to the camera systems of Xbox One consoles located in the bedrooms of children. The video that flows from these cameras is encrypted on-the-fly, so the NSA sex criminal that chooses to use the NSA facility this way can avoid detection if he has even one working braincell.

    Snowden is giving a VERY limited snapshot of NSA/GCHQ behaviour in the distant past- 'distant' in the sense that even 5 years back is an eternity when considering the world of computer based surveillance. The owners of Slashdot emphasis, as much as they can, lesser and obsolete abuses by the NSA.

    The Xbox One makes all previous forms of full surveillance look like they belong in the Stone Age, and yet Microsoft/NSA reputation management policies on forums and social networks ensure that, even today, those that warn about Xbox One spying are dismissed as "paranoid nut-cases". Every single tech site, this one included, has the official position that no NSA spying occurs via the Xbox One. Every monster in History has followed the principle "if you operate through lies, make your lies as BOLD as possible- the bigger the lie the better it works".


  • by Somebody Is Using My ( 985418 ) on Wednesday March 12, 2014 @06:50PM (#46469259) Homepage

    As bad, if the NSA can do it, so can others. Either they will hijack the NSA's 'wares, or they will use the same vulnerabilities and methods pioneered by these government agencies. Rather than working to protect the nation's citizenry, businesses and infrastructure, the NSA and others are actively undermining our security. Their mandate is not only to intercept enemy signals but to ensure that those of the country's are not similarly compromised. So not only have they overreached too far in one direction, they have ignored the equally important other part of the job.

    Sadly, even if the NSA did start offering secure solutions for people, would anybody trust them enough to take them up on it?

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