25 Nov 2013
US intelligence agents have infected more than 50,000 computer networks worldwide with malware to harvest sensitive information, as stated by to Dutch newspaper NRC.
Edward Snowden, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee, has provided a top-secret world map showing malware outbreaks and revealing how the NSA collects information through “Computer Network Exploitation implants” that infiltrate computer systems via malicious software.
Computer Network Exploitation includes "enabling actions and intelligence collection via computer networks that exploit data gathered from target or enemy information systems or networks," according to an NSA description of the program. The implants, which can be placed in anywhere in the world, are controlled remotely. Once planted in a network, they can become active or inactive for years without being detected.
These computer attacks are performed by a special department within the NSA called TAO (Tailored Access Operations). The NSA hackers break into routers, firewalls and switches to access the data transmitted by the devices linked to them.
The NSA has declined to comment on the validity of the information.
The disclosure is the latest in a series of leaks of secret documents by former NSA employer Edward Snowden, who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize.