How the NSA is spying on computers that aren’t online

A sign outside the National Security Administration campus in Fort Meade, Md. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

Since at least 2008, the National Security Agency has installed software on about 100,000 computers worldwide to allow the agency to spy on computers even if they aren’t connected to the Internet.

Who has been targeted? The program, code-named Quantum, has mostly been used on the Chinese army,  reports The New York Times, which acquired NSA documents through Edward Snowden.

The technology has also been used to monitor the Russian military and Mexican police groups. While it has been used against the governments of U.S. allies such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and India, there’s no evidence that suggests it’s been used inside the U.S.

What are they looking for? When the NSA targeted the Chinese Army, they tried to see cyber attacks being prepared against the U.S.

Hoe does it work?  Tiny transceivers are built into USB plugs and inserted into computers. In most cases, a spy or the manufacturer must physically insert the transceiver, the Times explains.

Those transceivers can transmit information to a briefcase-sized NSA station up to 8 miles away, and the station delivers the information back to an NSA operations center.

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