|NSA HAS SPYWARE IN OUR COMPUTERS?|
The U.S. National Security Agency may have been hiding spy software deep in consumers’ hard drives as part of its surveillance programs, according to a Reuters report.
Russian researchers found firmware planted in hard drives from top computer manufacturers such as Toshiba, Seagate, and Western Digital. Spyware was found in some form on personal computers in 30 countries, primarily in Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria, according to a report published by Moscow-based security software company Kaspersky Lab, which has a track record of uncovering Western countries’ cyber espionage programs.
Targets of the spyware ran the gamut with computers belonging to government and military institutions, banks, Islamic activists, media, telecommunication companies, nuclear researchers, and energy specialists found to be infected.
The Kaspersky Lab doesn’t explicitly name who was responsible for planting the firmware but indicates the spy campaign is closely related to the NSA’s Stuxnet program used against Iran’s nuclear enrichment program and discovered in 2010.
Former intelligence analysts confirmed to Reuters the NSA still values Stuxnet-like programs and has become proficient in hiding spyware deep in computers’ hard drives. The NSA has not publicly commented to the allegations.
Public concerns over government surveillance have grown worldwide, and ignited calls for reform and better privacy practices. Document leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden in late 2014 revealed how the agency both knowingly and unwittingly violated privacy laws, confirming earlier reports that it collected mass amounts data from ordinary citizens rather than suspected terrorists.
International governments have also taken more precautions to prevent U.S. intelligence agencies from eavesdropping on official communications. Germany and Russia vowed to switch back to paper communications such as handwritten notes and typewriters to avoid surveillance. Other countries have responded by beefing up their own spy programs or doubling down on American tech companies operating overseas.