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The United States National Security Agency installed malware on more than 50,000 computer networks around the world as part of its intelligence gathering program, according to documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The American spy agency also tapped into Internet fibre optic cables carrying Web traffic between several countries, according to report based on the leaked documents which was published on the Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad.

Implanting the special malware was part of the NSA’;s Computer Network Exploitation (CNE) operation, the newspaper said. CNE is one of three types of Computer Network Operations that NSA computer specialists perform to gather information using computer networks.

The malware implanted on the target computer networks are able to persist through software and equipment upgrades. The malware are used to gather communications and copy data.

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