Computer Offline? NSA Can Spy on It Anyway
Secret technology only deployed overseas
By Rob Quinn, Newser Staff
Posted Jan 15, 2014 2:23 AM CST
Updated Jan 15, 2014 7:28 AM CST
The new NSA Data Center in Bluffdale, Utah.   (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

(Newser) – Anybody who thinks disconnecting their computer from the Internet will keep them safe from the prying eyes of the National Security Agency needs to think again, according to the New York Times. The agency has inserted software into around 100,000 computers worldwide that allows it to spy on those machines, even entering and altering data when they are offline, NSA documents and interviews with security experts reveal. Surveillance targets include the Chinese and Russian militaries as well as Mexican drug targets and even European Union trade bodies.

The surveillance program uses secret radio frequency technology that usually requires hardware to be physically inserted into the targeted computer. Chinese cyberspies have been known to use similar technology, though the NSA insists its activities are very different. The NSA only targets "valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements," an agency spokeswoman said in a statement. "We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of—or give intelligence we collect to—US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line."

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Showing 3 of 44 comments
Hugh Ryan Squier
Jan 17, 2014 4:41 AM CST
Any building with a pipe or wire attached to it is hackable without Electricity, it is old technology . From, a Former Electronics teacher and son in law of Joe Jacobs of IBM.
Ezekiel 25:17
Jan 17, 2014 12:31 AM CST
In other words, someone has to do a physical hack of the target system to do this incursion. I have used a time tested tradition by leaving my computer on most of the time. It does not have a huge carbon footprint and since I work in a technology/IT position I am used to doing this at work since our systems spend all their service life being on 24/7. One thing I do before I leave home is to unplug the wifi from the usb port. At that point, its offline and I doubt the NSA has put a hidden wifi transponder in it. NSA wants to track me they just track the account.
Tx63Wolf
Jan 16, 2014 2:05 PM CST
Don't believe every thing you read. Some idiot decided he could scare people by making up a new story about government spying and went to a hack news agency to get it printed. I'll. bet he's reading all these posts right now and feeling very powerful and satisfied with himself. If you turn off your router or unplug your computer from whatever cable you get the internet from, there is no way someone can see what's on your computer short of sitting in front of it and interfacing with it via keyboard and mouse.