These days, every time a new revelation comes to light about an NSA practice unearthed by whistle-blower Eric Snowden comes to light, we’re prone to just shaking our heads instead of dropping our jaws.
A Dutch media firm by the name of NRC reported that one of the NSA’s slides leaked by Snowden reveals that the U.S. spying agency has infected more than 50,000 networks with malware worldwide. To what end? Stealing data, monitoring communications or, as German Chancellor Angela Merkel might put it, the usual.
The infections don’t begin to do the NSA’s bidding from the get-go through. Some of them are installed but then kept inactive by their handlers. The malware can lie asleep and undetected, waiting for its operator to enable it and begin mining data, monitoring conversations, etc. The NSA dubs its methods CNE, or Computer Network Exploitation. These malware-spreading operations are conducted by the TAO, or Tailored Access Operations, which is an arm that operates as a separate department underneath the larger NSA umbrella.
The NSA has infiltrated the networks of and installed malware on networks located all over the world, including Paris, Berlin, Prague, New Delhi, Rome, Bangkok.
The NSA has declined to comment on the matter.