The U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is believed to have targeted Silicon Valley giants with its hacking program.
The NSA has been surrounded with numerous controversies and more details of the agency's secretive surveillance operations are emerging. The NSA hackers, the latest reports claim, targeted many Silicon Valley giants such as Apple, Microsoft, YouTube, Facebook, and more.
Der Spiegel, a German publication, claims to have viewed the leaked NSA documents and its report suggests that the agency's Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO), a hacking unit based in San Antonio, Texas, targeted corporate networks around the world on the name of national security.
"TAO's area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage. The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO's disposal have become - and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks," per Spiegel.de.
The NSA is said to get nearly full access to smartphones, especially iPhones, with a program called "DROPOUT JEEP." In fact, the intelligence agency says in the leaked document that it has 100 percent success rate in installing the malware in the iPhones.
Der Spiegel report also indicates that the NSA used Microsoft Windows crash reports to spy on targets. The report also says that Microsoft Internet Explorer web browser was also very popular amongst NSA hackers. Responding to the report, the software giant said in an email statement on Sunday, "Microsoft does not provide any government with direct or unfettered access to our customer's data. We would have significant concerns if the allegations about government actions are true." Microsoft is one of the several technology companies that have urged the U.S. government to curb NSA's surveillance programs and have demanded more transparency from the agency.
The latest revelations also point towards TAO's sophisticated tools, internally known as "QUANTUMTHEORY."
"A comprehensive internal presentation titled "QUANTUM CAPABILITIES," which SPIEGEL has viewed, lists virtually every popular Internet service provider as a target, including Facebook, Yahoo, Twitter and YouTube. "NSA QUANTUM has the greatest success against Yahoo, Facebook and static IP addresses," it states. The presentation also notes that the NSA has been unable to employ this method to target users of Google services. Apparently, that can only be done by Britain's GCHQ intelligence service, which has acquired QUANTUM tools from the NSA," per Der Spiegel.
Der Spiegel also points towards another NSA agency called ANT that is said to have created backdoors in devices from Dell, Juniper, Western Digital, Seagate, Samsung and more.
Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor, leaked classified agency documents to media in June this year and since then many secretive operations of NSA are coming into light.