Hard drives beware, the NSA is coming for you

NSA floor seal
A new report from the threat research team at Kaspersky Labs has discovered the existence of a highly advanced set of trojans developed in concert by the NSA and its partners, capable of breaking into any hard drive and going undetected for years on end.

The effort, launched on behalf of what Kaspersky is calling the “Equation Group,” was a specialized operation designed to implement surveillance on some of the NSA’s highest profile targets. Unlike the blanket collection methods we saw with the taps of Google’s fiber optic lines or phone call record archives, the NSA kept the secrets of their hard drive intrusion comparatively close to their chest, only bringing out the big guns when it was an absolute necessity.

Kaspersky believes this is due to the highly advanced nature of the code that was used to infiltrate the drives, which could have cost upwards of several million dollars to construct, implement, and maintain over the past decade. The agency wasn’t willing to risk having that technology fall into the wrong hands through overuse, and as far as the Russian threat research group could find, the only targets it’s been used on are computers within specific I.P. ranges, most of them in the Middle East.

The code was capable of infiltrating drives from many of the largest providers including Seagate, Western Digital, and Toshiba, rewriting the firmware on each, and making itself resilient to any method of removal including flash wipes.

This is capability that only a nation-state could cook up, and anonymous sources still working within the agency have been able to confirm the existence of the program used to develop it. Kaspersky’s findings suggest the group behind the exploit has been active for at least 15 years, and the hard-drive infecting malware, called GrayFish by Kaspersky, has been around since 2008.

The news comes just a day after the Lab unveiled details of one of the largest banking trojan operations in history, which yielded the hackers behind the scam upwards of one billion dollars, collected over a span of just under two years.

None of the manufacturers of the drives in question claim to have known about the defects in their devices, and state they have never worked or collaborated with the NSA to install secret backdoors in their hardware.

Computing

Here’s how to watch AMD reveal its new Ryzen chips at Computex

AMD will hold a pre-Computex keynote May 27 to announce its new line of 3rd-generation Ryzen processors and accompanying Radeon Navi graphics cards. Here's how to watch the keynote live wherever you are in the world.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the must-have games that every Xbox One owner needs

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From Cuphead to Halo 5, the best Xbox One games offer something for players of every type.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (May 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Computing

These external drives have speed, durability, and storage space to spare

Whether you want an external storage drive that is fast, portable, or comes with a ton of storage, these are the best external hard drives available today. They all come with great features and competitive pricing.
Computing

Should you buy a MacBook Pro or a Razer Blade Stealth? We'll help you decide

Laptop head to heads are a great way to see which one might be the right one for you. Our latest sees the Razer Blade Stealth (2019) vs. MacBook Pro in a fight to see which one deserves to be your next laptop.
Computing

Microsoft might finally embrace USB-C on next-gen Surface Pro 7

USB-C could finally come to Microsoft's Surface Pro tablet. According to a Microsoft patent filing, the port was shown in an illustration, suggesting that the company is working to support this feature in the future.
Computing

AMD's latest Navi graphics cards are incoming. Here's what to expect

AMD's Navi graphics cards could be available as soon as July 2019 — as long as it's not delayed by stock problems. Billed as a successor to Polaris, Navi promises to deliver better performance to consoles like Sony's PlayStation 5.
Computing

Ryzen 3000 chips will pack a punch, and could launch as early as July

AMD's upcoming Ryzen 3000 generation of CPUs could be the most powerful processors we've ever seen, with higher core counts, greater clock speeds, and competitive pricing. Here's what we know so far.
Mobile

Want to watch Netflix in bed or browse the web? We have a tablet for everyone

There’s so much choice when shopping for a new tablet that it can be hard to pick the right one. From iPads to Android, these are our picks for the best tablets you can buy right now whatever your budget.
Deals

The best Amazon Prime Day 2019 deals: Everything you need to know

Amazon Prime Day 2019 is still a few months off, but it's never too early to start preparing. We've been taking a look at the best discounts from previous Prime Days to give you our predictions of what to expect this year.
Computing

Here’s how to watch the Nvidia Computex 2019 press conference

Here’s everything you need to know about Nvidia’s upcoming press conference at Computex 2019 in Taipei, Taiwan; including what to expect during the press conference and how and when to watch it.
Deals

Best Memorial Day sales 2019: Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart deals

If you're looking to save big on some shiny new stuff for Memorial Day 2019, we've gathered everything you need to know into one place. Find out where to save the most money before the summer hits its stride.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Tricked-out e-scooters and bike lights that lock

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it's fun to gawk!