Web

NSA pretended to be Facebook in its effort to infect ‘millions’ of computers

facebook eye

Well, this is just special. As part of its efforts to install malware on “millions” of computers worldwide, the National Security Agency impersonated Facebook to trick targets into downloading malicious code.

“In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,” reports The Intercept in its latest on top-secret documents obtained by Edward Snowden. “In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.”

The Facebook trick was called QUANTUMHAND by the NSA, and was initially tested on “about a dozen targets” before being launched on a larger scale in 2010, the documents show.

What began as a way to hit “hart-to-reach” targets – around 100 to 150 of them, as of 2004 – the NSA’s malware-spreading efforts have since proliferated to potentially millions of computers around the globe using an automated system known internally as TURBINE. Using TURBINE, documents reveal, gave members of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit the ability to tap into, or destroy, computers on a massive scale.

Here’s how The Intercept’s Ryan Gallagher and Glenn Greenwald describe some of the various tailored malware the NSA deploys into targeted machines:

One implant, codenamed UNITEDRAKE, can be used with a variety of “plug-ins” that enable the agency to gain total control of an infected computer.

An implant plug-in named CAPTIVATEDAUDIENCE, for example, is used to take over a targeted computer’s microphone and record conversations taking place near the device. Another, GUMFISH, can covertly take over a computer’s webcam and snap photographs. FOGGYBOTTOM records logs of Internet browsing histories and collects login details and passwords used to access websites and email accounts. GROK is used to log keystrokes. And SALVAGERABBIT exfiltrates data from removable flash drives that connect to an infected computer.

The documents also indicate that some of these viruses disable targets’ ability to use encryption software to mask Internet activity or send emails privately. This and other malware efforts are part of what the NSA documents call its “Owning the Net” program.

Product Review

4K in home security is finally here, thanks to Arlo’s Ultra UHD smart cam

The 4K home security camera is finally here! Class-leading image clarity and a super-wide field of vision makes Arlo Ultra an early contender for the year’s best smart cam. While there are definite quirks to the device, the device…
Gaming

Kick off your streaming career with our complete guide to Twitch broadcasting

Streaming games on Twitch for the first time can be daunting to say the least, but with a few simple steps, it's remarkably easy to do. Here's how to do so using a PC, Mac, Xbox One, or PlayStation 4 console.
Computing

Federal jury convicts malware creators of hijacking 400,000 computers

Two Romanian men have been convicted by a federal jury for using malware to hijack 400,000 computers in order to steal credit card information, engage in cryptomining, and commit online auction fraud, among a number of other crimes.
Gaming

These are the best capture cards for recording your favorite gaming moments

With an external capture device or "capture card," anyone with a gaming system can become a YouTube or Twitch star. But which one should you choose? These are the best capture cards.
Web

From pranksters to pop stars, these are the 10 biggest YouTube channels

For better or worse, YouTube celebrities have had a profound impact on popular culture. From comedy channels, to gaming let's plays, and musicians, they all garner tens of millions of subscribers. These are the most popular.
Health & Fitness

Microsoft says it’s closing its HealthVault patient records service

Microsoft has announced it is closing its HealthVault service, which offered a way for individuals to store and share their health records with medical professionals. Users are advised to act soon if they want to save their data.
Social Media

How a two-year-old Facebook post may lead to jail time for a visitor to Dubai

If you enjoy sounding off on social media, you might want to check through your posts prior to any trip to Dubai after a British woman was arrested there for comments made on Facebook two years ago.
Movies & TV

No TV? No problem. Here's how to watch the NCAA championship game online

Whether you want to watch the Big Dance on your phone or on your smart TV, we have the lowdown on all the ways to watch March Madness you can handle. Grab your foam finger and some nachos.
Photography

Back off, photo thieves: Flickr alerts photographers to image theft with Pixsy

Worried about someone swiping your photo off Flickr? The image sharing platform can now integrate with Pixsy accounts to alert photographers when a photo is used without permission by using artificial intelligence to scour the web.
Social Media

Facebook’s tributes section serves as an online memorial for deceased users

Death doesn't stop Facebook users from sharing memories, and now those memorialized posts have a dedicated spot on the network. Facebook Tribute is a section on memorialized profiles for users to write posts and share memories.
Social Media

How to protect yourself from GoFundMe scams before donating

Can you spot a GoFundMe scam? While the fundraising platform says scams make up less than a tenth of one percent of campaigns, some do try to take advantages of others' charity -- like a case last year that made national news.
Computing

House votes to restore net neutrality rules, but effort faces long odds

The U.S. House of Representatives has approved the Save the Internet Act, a measure intended to restore net neutrality rules that were repealed in 2017 by the Federal Communications Commission.
Web

Search all of Craigslist at once with these great tools on web and mobile

Not finding what you need in your local area? Craigslist can be great for finding goods and services from further afield too. All you need do is learn these tips for how to search all of Craigslist at once.
Mobile

The FCC and White House want to bring high-speed internet to rural areas

The FCC and the White House unveiled new initiatives to bring high-speed internet to rural areas, including $20.4 billion in incentives to companies to build infrastructure. The FCC also announced ways to speed up the rollout of 5G.