The U.S. National Security Agency has compromised multiple makes of switches and routers manufactured by market leaders Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Huawei, according to documents leaked to Der Speigel magazine.
The NSA’s crack hacking unit, Tailored Access Operations, routinely refers to a 50-page list of hardware and software products for which the NSA has tools to gain unauthorised and covert access when looking to tap a target. These include industry standard switches and routers and the firmware of most major makes of hard drives.
The report, filed by TOR contributor Jacob Applebaum - known to be a confidant of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden - reveals that most of the hacking tools used by the NSA targeted devices that were several years old and that many of them were available at a price - some up to $250,000.
While SC Magazine has not seen the list directly, this would suggest that the backdoors are gained without the cooperation of the manufacturers. Further, while the NSA employs its own hackers to build some of these tools, the price tags might suggest that it purchases some from online malware markets.
The Der Spiegel story was published as the world’s information security experts met at the 30th congress of the Chaos Computer Club conference in Hamburg.
The keynote speech for the 2013 conference was provided by journalist Glenn Greenwald, a second figure that has gained access to Edward Snowden’s trove of documents.
Among the most recent NSA revelations:
Copyright © SC Magazine, Australia
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