NSA May Intercept and Implant Malware on Laptops Purchased Online

Recent reports may make Hollywood techno-thrillers look more like a reality. Apparently, the elite hacking unit of the NSA may have conducted sophisticated wiretaps on laptops purchased online. In collaboration with the FBI and CIA, the NSA may routinely intercept laptops being delivered to buyers. The signal intelligence agency could implant malware before these laptops reach the destinations.

However, the report doesn’t tell us who were targeted with such wiretaps; but this allows us to get a unique look at the collaborative efforts of the intelligence community in the US to gain information. Code named Cottonmouth, the project is aimed to gain remote access on specific machine through the use of USB hardware implants. It has also been reported that the NSA exploit error reports, by intercepting them to know what is wrong with targets’ devices.

Major US companies, including the Microsoft have called the NSA as an advanced persistent threat and they assure that they have no involvement with the government related to this project. Nevertheless, we still can’t be certain about this.

This project is needed because some laptops would never be connected to the Internet for specific reasons. Companies may keep critical data in these networks-less machines, so do people with malicious intents. Consequently, the NSA need direct physical access to the targets to implant specific codes.

The intelligence community, including the NSA, has been facing constant pressure from the public, privacy advocates, federal courts and Congress over its comprehensive and expansive spying programs.

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