NSA ANT Spy Gear: A Secret Weapon that Hacks Electronics Worldwide

From Samsung smartphones to Dell computers, Americans are being tracked by the National Security Agency ( NSA ) via electronic spy gear. Last week Snowden warned Americans in a Christmas message that big brother is watching. “We have sensors in our pockets that track us everywhere we go,” he said. Now Snowden has leaked the document that proves his claim.

One of the documents Snowden has reportedly leaked is a product catalog for spies and hackers at the NSA.

According to SPIEGEL,

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“a product catalog reveals that an NSA division called ANT (Access Network Technology) has burrowed its way into nearly all the security architecture made by the major players in the industry — including American global market leader Cisco and its Chinese competitor Huawei, but also producers of mass-market goods, such as US computer-maker Dell.”

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The article claims that ANT specialists at the NSA’s department for Tailored Access Operations can remotely access, monitor, and manipulate data in electronics around the world. Electronic devices that cannot be attacked via the internet are intercepted and manually bugged. In some cases, the NSA actually intercepts packages to put “backdoors” in electronics.

SPIEGEL explains, “These NSA agents, who specialize in secret back doors, are able to keep an eye on all levels of our digital lives — from computing centers to individual computers, from laptops to mobile phones. For nearly every lock, ANT seems to have a key in its toolbox. And no matter what walls companies erect, the NSA’s specialists seem already to have gotten past them.”

ANT specialists can choose spy gear from a 50-page catalog to assist them in spying operations.

Some of the listed items are:

  • Rigged monitor cable – $30 – Allows “TAO personnel to see what is displayed on the targeted monitor.
  • GSM base station – $40,000 – Mimics mobile phone tower and allows cell phone monitoring.
  • Computer bugging devices (50 pack) – $1 million – Disguised as normal USB plugs, it is capable of sending and receiving data via radio undetected.

SPIEGEL states that these American technology companies are not aware that the NSA has hacked their systems.

“Cisco does not work with any government to modify our equipment, nor to implement any so-called security ‘back doors’ in our products,” the company said in a statement.

Last week, Ben Swann, reported that U.S. District Judge William H. Pauley III ruled it was legal for the NSA to collect bulk meta-data of American’s phone records.

“One could argue that the ruling by a Federal Judge that the NSA spying program is legal was not only a horrible ruling, but based on his personal view and not grounded at all in law,” Swann said.

The lawsuit argues that the phone surveillance program violates both the First Amendment rights of free speech and association, and the Fourth Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. At least three other lawsuits challenging bulk data collection are pending in other federal courts. Attorney Brett Max Kaufman said the ACLU will appeal Friday’s ruling.

The newly leaked documents are striking, though. As the NSA revelations keep on coming, it could provide more evidence for civil liberty lawsuits.

For more on the revelations of Edward Snowden, pick up Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State.

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