Ever wonder why the IT components you order sometimes take an extra day to get to your organization? Maybe a spy agency has “improved” it.
That’s the implication in a news story from Germany’s Der Spiegel, which reported Sunday that a unit within the U.S. National Security Agency will sometimes intercept delivery of an electronic device and install spyware.
Called the Office of Tailored Access (TAO), it allegedly exploits weaknesses in software from Microsoft, Cisco Systems Inc., Huawei Technologies and others.
The story also alleges some 85,000 computers around the world are infiltrated with NSA-created spyware.
TAO is also able to get some information from automated bug reports submitted by Windows-based PCs to Microsoft. The PC itself apparently isn’t manipulated, but the spooks believe some interesting information about the computer can be gleaned from the report.
The TAO is also responsible for other kinds of specialized online attacks and interceptions.
The report is just the latest in a series of revelations, many from former NSA contract worker Edward Snowden, about the capabilities of western electronic intelligency agencies.
Nominally, they deal with the hunt for criminals, but the stories are also starting to make large IT vendors squirm.
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