Another way the NSA is intercepting your information
According to German magazine, Spiegel Online, the National Security Agency (NSA) has a special team that intercepts computers ordered online during delivery to install espionage hardware before sending them along the way to targets.
The report claims that the division, called Tailored Access Operations, was charged with obtaining information from targets perceived as the least possible to monitor, and the most difficult cases. According to the Associated Press, an anonymous intelligence official says that the division has already gathered “some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen.”
Secret workshops set up to intercept packages
The division is said to use advanced technologies like computer monitor cables that track all screen activity, as well as USB sticks that contain special transmitters to send data back to the NSA.
In an effort to gain access to these electronics, the agency is said to have intercepted them as they were being delivered to targets, fitting them with espionage software in what is being referred to as “secret workshops,” then completing the shipment and sending the package along, without the target ever knowing.
Even Microsoft was spied on
But it isn’t just potential criminals the team spied on, no, Microsoft was a target, as the agency used their crash reports to help the division to take advantage of weaknesses in Windows-based computers. The agency allegedly went so far as to replace the usual Microsoft error message on intercepted devices with statements like “This information may be intercepted by a foreign sigint (signals intelligence) system to gather detailed information and better exploit your machine.”
Microsoft attempted to assuage users’ fears, noting that they do not “provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customer’s data. We would have significant concerns if the allegations about government actions are true.”