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NSA can spy on computers not connected to internet using radio waves

The National Security Agency can monitor, enter and alter data on computers even if the machines are not connected to the internet, according to a New York Times report.

Citing leaked documents the paper says the technology, in use since at least 2008, relies on "a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from circuit boards and USB cards planted in the computers.

The transmitters are inserted secretly during manufacturing, by agents in the field or by an unwitting user. In some casse the data is then sent to a briefcase-size relay station "as far away as eight miles under ideal environmental conditions". The stations create a link between the target computers and the NSA.

“What’s new here is the scale and the sophistication of the intelligence agency’s ability to get into computers and networks to which no one has ever had access before,” James Andrew Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told the paper.

“Some of these capabilities have been around for a while, but the combination of learning how to penetrate systems to insert software and learning how to do that using radio frequencies has given the U.S. a window it’s never had before.”

The newspaper lists Chinese and Russian military, the European Union, Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan as targets of the surveillance program code-named Quantum.

Independent computer security researcher Jacob Applebaum exposed the offline surveillance and made other startling revelations more than two weeks ago during a lecture in Hamburg, Germany. Video is below.

Jacob Applebaum: To protect and infect

Further reading

Charities 'among spying targets'

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales: Edward Snowden is a hero

NSA spied on pornography use and ‘online promiscuity’ as part of plan to discredit those with radical views, according to leaked documents

Spy culture 'out of control' - peer

GCHQ ran hotel surveillance ring to spy on diplomats and delegations

GCHQ set up fake LinkedIn pages to spy on mobile phone giants using 'Quantum Insert' technique

Google engineers on NSA and GCHQ surveillance: "F*** these guys"

Britain’s GCHQ has ‘secret listening post in the heart of Berlin to eavesdrop on the seat of German power'

Civil liberties groups claim British spy agency GCHQ broke European laws by hacking millions of citizens’ internet data

UK has secret Middle-East web surveillance base collecting emails, phone calls and web traffic

It’s a disgrace that police detained David Miranda

US National Security Agency 'broke privacy rules thousands of times each year'

Intelligence agencies 'ban use of Lenovo computers' over spying fears

Verax: Amateur film-makers make first Edward Snowden movie

MIT Media Lab's 'Immersion' project reveals the power of metadata: uses individuals' Google Gmail metadata to create accurate maps of personal relationships

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