NSA accused of bugging 100,000 PCs across the globe


The US National Security Agency (NSA) has covertly installed surveillance tools on 100,000 PCs around the world, according to a New York Times (NYT) report.

The Agency has been accused of having small circuit boards and USB cards inserted into the affected machines, which broadcast a channel of radio waves back to NSA surveillance teams.

Code-named Quantum, the project allows the NSA to keep tabs on machines that are not connected to the internet, but does require a third party to insert the circuit board or USB to be successful.

It has reportedly been used by the NSA for surveillance purposes since 2008, and only to snoop on overseas targets.

These, according to the NYT report, include Russian military networks, systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, and European Union trade institutions.

The claims are based on the accounts of US officials, computer experts and prolific NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

An NSA spokesperson told the paper that it only focuses on "valid foreign intelligence targets" based on the intelligence it receives.

"We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of or give intelligence we collect to US companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line," Vanee Vines, the NSA spokesperson told the NYT.

The report is the latest in a long line of disclosures about the NSA's activities, which have come under scrutiny since Snowden started leaking details about it in the summer of 2013.

Caroline Donnelly is the news and analysis editor of IT Pro and its sister site Cloud Pro, and covers general news, as well as the storage, security, public sector, cloud and Microsoft beats. Caroline has been a member of the IT Pro/Cloud Pro team since March 2012, and has previously worked as a reporter at several B2B publications, including UK channel magazine CRN, and as features writer for local weekly newspaper, The Slough and Windsor Observer. She studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Leicester and completed a Postgraduate Diploma in Magazine Journalism at PMA Training in 2006.