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The United States National Security Agency has been relying on a secret channel of radio waves that allows the agency access to almost 100,000 computers around the world, even if the machines are not connected to the Internet.

The “digital highway” for staging cyber attacks has been used by the NSA since 2008, according to a report yesterday in The New York Times. The radio waves are transmitted from small circuit boards, or USB cards, or software covertly inserted into computers, the publication said, citing information gathered from U.S. officials, security experts and documents leaked by former NSA security contractor Edward Snowden.

Among the targets of such attacks were units of the Chinese Army, which the US has accused of launching cyber attacks on American military and industrial targets to steal classified information and industrial secrets.

The program which is codenamed Quantum has also been successfully used on Russian military networks as well as systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, European Union trade groups and even U.S. partners such as Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.

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