Glenn Greenwald says NSA bugs tech hardware en route to global customers

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Routers and servers implanted with beacons by NSA, says journalist who broke Edward Snowden story

CBC: May 13, 2014

American journalist Glenn Greenwald is accusing the U.S. National Security Agency of breaking into tech hardware to install surveillance bugs before the products are shipped to unsuspecting global customers, in a new book about the NSA’s mass surveillance practices.

Greenwald, who broke the story of intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden, sat down with CBC’s chief correspondent Peter Mansbridge to discuss previously unseen documents in an interview airing Tuesday night on The National.

Greenwald’s new book, No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the U.S. Surveillance State, comes out on Tuesday.

The NSA practice is called supply-chain interdiction, in which the agency intercepts U.S.-made products such as routers and servers manufactured by companies such as Cisco. The hardware is physically implanted with beacons before being factory repackaged and shipped to unaware consumers around the world.

The U.S. has warned companies about the dangers of buying Chinese products for this very reason, Greenwald says in No Place to Hide.

“While American companies were being warned away from supposedly untrustworthy Chinese routers, foreign organizations would have been well advised to beware of American-made ones,” Greenwald says. “A June 2010 report from the head of the NSA’s Access and Target Development department is shockingly explicit. The document gleefully observes that some ‘SIGINT [signals intelligence] tradecraft … is very hands-on (literally!).”

Other revelations include a collect-it-all doctrine and extending surveillance to include airplane communications.

“If the quantity of collection revealed was already stupefying, the NSA’s mission to collect all the signals all the time has driven the agency to expand and conquer more and more ground,” Greenwald writes. “The amount of data it captures is so vast, in fact, that the principal challenge the agency complains about is storing the heaps of information accumulated from around the globe.”

(read the full article at CBC)

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