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The National Security Agency hacked into 100,000 computers around the world using radio waves to spy on the machines. By gaining access to these computers, the NSA also created a pathway to conducting cyber attacks in the digital world.
The New York Times reports that the NSA has mostly used computer networks to gain access, but also started using secret technology that allows the agency to get into a computer even if it’s not linked to the Internet. The NSA has been using this technology since at least 2008 and involves sending the radio waves with either a USB card or a small circuit board.
This technology has helped the government foil enemy computers made impervious to cyber attacks. However, the Times notes that it still requires a spy to physically modify these enemy computers, either by finding the target and putting it in the computer or by going to the manufacturer.
According to the documents the Times obtained, which was among the trove of leaked papers from Edward Snowden, the program is known as Quantum. The top target was the Chinese Army, which the U.S. has said has stolen intellectual property from the military and American industry.
The NY Daily News notes that the NSA insists Quantum was not used within the U.S.
“NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements,” NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines told the Times. “We do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”
image: Wikimedia Commons