The NSA Is Allegedly Putting Malware On Mail Order Laptops

We thought we’d help you close out the year on a troubling note: NSA spying is even more pervasive than you might think. How pervasive? If you bought a laptop over the Internet, they may have put some special surveillance goodies into it.

This good news comes courtesy of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations department, or, in colloquial spy-speak, the NSA’s version of a black-bag team. And they’re willing to go to rather extreme lengths, according to Der Spiegel:

If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.

It’s fairly safe to say that the vast majority of us do not have any special NSA spy goodies uploaded to our laptops. Not that it matters since TAO is apparently able to tap the undersea cables that make up the majority of international Internet traffic and that the NSA is doing more digging into tapping those.

Of course, you also probably have a whole bunch of spyware sitting on your laptop anyway if you, like the vast majority of people, bought a Windows installation. Most of the standard bloatware crap floating around on your desktop may also be spying on you, because that’s legal in the world we live in and you probably agreed to it in the EULA.

In short, the government may be spying on you, via your laptop, and there’s nothing you can do to remove it. Happy New Year!

Source: Spiegel. Image via Shutterstock