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You can run but you can't hide
ServiusTheBear  posted on Jan 16, 2014 9:28:36 AM - Report post

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originally posted by Paul Lilly

NSA Uses Radio Waves to Spy on Offline PCs

You can run but you can't hide

Surely by disconnecting your PC from the Internet and bashing your cable modem with a hammer you'll be safe from the prying eyes of the National Security Agency (NSA), right? Wrong. Like a bad sci-fi movie that keeps unveiling unlikely technologies, it's now being reported that the NSA has been using radio waves to tap into offline PCs since at least 2008.

According a report in The New York Times, the NSA installed software on nearly 100,000 computers around the world that allows the U.S. to spy on those machines. Most of the software is inserted by gaining access to computer networks, but the NSA also utilizes a secret technology that allows the organization to alter data in computers even when they're not connected to the internet.

This is where the radio waves come in. The NSA has been listening in on a covert channel of radio waves transmitted from small PCBs and USB cards that are stealthily installed into PCs. Going with the sci-fi movie them, these radio waves are sometimes recorded by relay stations no bigger than a briefcases, which the NSA can install miles away from the target PC, NYT says.

The NSA considers this an "active defense" against cyberattacks, though it's not necessarily easy to implement. Most of the time this sort of thing requires physically installing radio frequency hardware into a target PC, which is usually performed by a spy or manufacturer.

To date, the program (codenamed Quantum) has been successful in inserting radio frequency spying software into Russian military networks and systems used by the Mexican police and drug cartels, trade institutions inside the EU, and anti-terrorist partners.

NYT says there's no evidence that the NSA has used this technology inside the U.S., while an agency spokeswoman added that these activities are "focused and specifically deployed against -- and only against -- valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements."

You can find the article by clicking the (Linkie)

Now I seen this today on FB and was like wtf. I really do wonder if its true or not. But if it is. WTF. Wondering what everyone else thinks on this?

techowl  posted on Jan 16, 2014 9:39:32 AM - Report post

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depends really, a desktop i highly doubt it, but a laptop i guess its possible

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Who are the real terrorists...
Neo7  posted on Jan 17, 2014 3:02:58 PM - Report post

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This kind of attack would have a very limited scope and you would need information about the computer you want access to. The vector of attack would be hardware base (USB is probably the most possible but every foreign medium your computer comes into contact with is a potential vector). It is also dependent on what firmware the computer has, operating system, Kernel status, etc.

Theoretically, yes it is possible to do so.

Dhampy  posted on Jan 17, 2014 5:16:02 PM - Report post

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The idea that the NSA gives a crap about any everyday person is laughable.

And the existence of something does not imply its use.

For example, in the US we have a national militia. It encompasses every male over 18 and under some older age, I can't recall. And at any time, a magistrate can conscript you into its service; off the street, no warning, here's a rifle now go fight. Now... This exists. And it is a violation of your civil rights. But simply because it exists does not imply that it would ever be used.

So, the NSA isn't listening to your calls. It isn't reading your emails. It isn't using radio waves to read your mind. Because you and I are wholly unimportant.

Neo7  posted on Jan 17, 2014 8:02:30 PM - Report post

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Forgot to mention one thing:

Infection via radio waves is infeasible. You would need something on the computer that can interpret the radio wave signals and do something with it. If it lacks the capability to do so, your computer will happily ignore the malicious attack.

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