NSA reportedly bugs some US made routers before they are shipped overseas

The National Security Agency has intercepted and installed surveillance hardware inside some U.S. made routers before they are scheduled to ship overseas. That's the claim in Glenn Greenwald's new book "No Place To Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the Surveillance State."

Greenwald was one of the journalists who helped to break the news about the NSA's many online spying activities in 2013 via files taken by Snowden, who worked for the agency. In the except from his new book on The Guardian, Greenwald says that a 2010 report from the NSA's Access and Target Development department claims the group grabs routers, servers and other computer hardware that is supposed to go out of the country.

The agency then installs its own hardware tools, puts a new factory seal on the equipment and the products continue to their destination; the NSA can then monitor the hardware from anywhere in the world.

Ironically, the U.S. government tried to keep Chinese-based hardware companies like Huawei and ZTE from selling their products in the U.S. back in 2012 because they claimed the hardware could be used to spy on citizens. The article suggests that the government didn't want Chinese-made routers to gain a foothold in the market because their shipments could not be intercepted.

Source: The Guardian | Router image via Shutterstock

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22 Comments

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From what I've read, just 10% of their $52.6 Billion dollar budget focuses on internet related interceptions such as routers, phones, cellular etc. The other 90% supposedly consists of SIGINT or Signals Intelligence. Anyone seen the movie 'Paycheck'. It would seem that their understanding of how the human brain receives and processes data has made some advances. Combine that with a fully operational quantum computer and hey presto, Perhaps a constructed God to fool people of their faith?, get information to a select few for their own advantage?, A tool designed to scare people into conforming to a powerful minorities point of view?, Insider trading on a never before seen scale? It would be an interesting survey to analyse the average life expectancy of the people who run and fund the NSA and associative organizations.

Yeah,
Glad I use InPrivate Browsing in IE!! :)

Sheesh!
Doesn't that sound about as ridiculous as the post I'm replying to? ;)

I'd like to know what routers are made here in the U.S. also?

FloatingFatMan said,
Well... True or not, that just killed sales of routers made in the USA!

I'm still trying to work out which ones are made there...

wahoospa said,
I guess the EU will now put a ban on American made routers.

wait what!! the US actually does make something??:D

I thought all along that the real reason for the US gov't to single out Huawei and ZTE equipment was not for fear of Chinese spying, but that the US gov't couldn't use them for their own spying.

If the NSA is doing it, I wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese were doing the same to US-bound routers. Either way, NSA or Chinese - the mistrust it creates is really bad for business.

Enron said,
If the NSA is doing it, I wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese were doing the same to US-bound routers. Either way, NSA or Chinese - the mistrust it creates is really bad for business.

obje... er, i mean, projection!!

It might just be me, but none of these NSA "revelations" seem to be reasonably interesting anymore.

Spy agency has shipped bugged devices overseas?

I'm shocked. Truly shocked. No, seriously. I would never have thought a spy agency that deals with electronic interception would do that sort of thing.

/s

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to imagine that targeted electronic wiretapping takes place, but when it si assumed to be as broad as the article/book points out, that is truly where it gets shocking. It isn't much different to the universal NSA backdoor in Windows that was discovered. That isn't just gathering intelligence from certain targets, that's big brother at work ;)

This seems like such a excellent example of targeted surveillance though. They're not going to vacuum up every single router, server and other little widget that is made in the US and install their sneaky backdoors; I bet that it would just be cheaper to hack the manufacturer and place their backdoors directly into the production lines.

This seems more like the sort of thing that is targeted towards particular high-end products and shipments that will most likely be going to high value targets for the NSA. No controversy here.

Except that NSA backdoor in Windows was just a myth created around the misunderstood naming of a key (think registery key, not key to your back door.)
And the wording of the claim does make it sound as if the NSA intercepted routers being shipped, presumably to targeted individuals.

Steven P. said,
It isn't much different to the universal NSA backdoor in Windows that was discovered.

And what "universal NSA backdoor in Windows" would that be? Citation please. The conspiracy sites aren't an acceptable answer.

Edited by _dandy_, May 13 2014, 7:18pm :

It is fake, but people prefer to remain fools even when the truth is handed to them on a gold platter, because they feel better being part of a herd.