The U.S. National Security Agency has figured out how to hide spying software deep within hard drives made by Western Digital, Seagate, Toshiba and other top manufacturers, giving the agency the means to eavesdrop on the majority of the world’s computers, according to cyber researchers and former operatives.
That long-sought and closely guarded ability was part of a cluster of spying programs discovered by Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based security software maker that has exposed a series of Western cyberespionage operations.
Kaspersky said it found personal computers in 30 countries infected with one or more of the spying programs, with the most infections seen in Iran, followed by Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China, Mali, Syria, Yemen and Algeria. The targets included government and military institutions, telecommunication companies, banks, energy companies, nuclear researchers, media, and Islamic activists, Kaspersky said. (http://reut.rs/1L5knm0)
The firm declined to publicly name the country behind the spying campaign, but said it was closely linked to Stuxnet, the NSA-led cyberweapon that was used to attack Iran’s uranium enrichment facility. The NSA is the agency responsible for gathering electronic intelligence on behalf of the United States.
A former NSA employee told Reuters that Kaspersky’s analysis was correct, and that people still in the intelligence agency valued these spying programs as highly as Stuxnet. Another former intelligence operative confirmed that the NSA had developed the prized technique of concealing spyware in hard drives, but said he did not know which spy efforts relied on it.
NSA spokeswoman Vanee Vines declined to comment.
Kaspersky published the technical details of its research on Monday, which should help infected institutions detect the spying programs, some of which trace back as far as 2001.
(keep reading at news.yahoo.com)
Earlier today, after being inspired by /u/Daurgothoth I uploaded a Bitcoin Vs. Western Union Ad mocking WU’s questionable use of grammar whilst comparing their prices to bitcoin. It ended up on top of /r/bitcoin and, multiple @westernunion tweets later, I was quite surprised to find my original upload has been mysteriously ‘disappeared’.
I can only assume this was due to a complaint from WU that the ad infringes their trademark/copyright. Only problem being – it doesn’t. The ad clearly falls under the rulings on Comparative Advertising.
So, as I imagine the furious WU PR department scrambling into damage limitation mode, resorting to spurious copyright takedowns as their only means to suppress from the public the embarrassing truth that bitcoin poses to their archaic business model… I can’t help but reflect on how far we’ve come in the last year.
It is clear bitcoin is no longer at the ‘first they laughed’ stage and WU have moved into full on ‘fight’ mode – a year ago WU wouldn’t have even blinked.
Yet, there’s only so much fighting the truth you can do before you eventually self-destruct; especially when you’re fighting an ‘enemy’ that is a decentralised movement of people with no board of directors, leaders, or obvious targets (beyond the odd redditor) to be bullied.
I guess it’s bitcoiners that can do the laughing now.
EDIT: Some 4 hours or so after contacting imgur and requesting a copy of any applicable DMCA takedown notices, it appears the hard image link has just been reinstated (although the gallery/comment page is still down).
(keep reading at cybersalon.org)