Hollywood Movie or NSA Spy Strategy?
A shipment of laptops leaves a manufacturer, headed to customers around the world. Among those customers is one in particular that’s on the NSA watch list. But before the laptop can reach its destination, the shipment is diverted to a warehouse.
There’s nothing remarkable about the warehouse. But what happens inside is definitely out of the ordinary.
The target laptop from the shipment is carefully opened. NSA agents quickly and expertly install a bit of their secret software inside. In some cases, they install extra hardware, too. Then they repackage the target laptop, and send the shipment back on its way.
When the laptop makes it into the targeted customer’s hands, he doesn’t know that his new computer has a backdoor installed. That backdoor gives the NSA easy access to his data and his communications. They can even remotely take control of the computer if they decide they need to.
It sounds like a plot twist in the latest blockbuster movie.
The process is called “interdiction,” and according to a report in the German newspaper Der Spiegel, it’s something the NSA is already doing.
And not just to laptops, either.
NSA agents also intercept a variety of computer accessories and plant bugs in them too. This kind of operation isn’t that unusual. In fact, reports refer to it as “routine.”
And if you’re thinking this kind of spying is probably reserved for foreign nationals, think again. Many of the NSA’s targets for interdiction are American-based companies.
When Your Computer Is Not Your Own
I’ve written to you a number of times about the underhanded and downright scary methods the NSA uses to hack into computer systems. From impersonating Facebook to tracking the terms entered into search engines.
But actually commandeering someone’s computer and installing unwanted software and hardware in it to gain access to their personal lives has to take the cake.
After an interdiction, the NSA has the power to:
- Control your computer’s camera and observe you in real time
- Turn on your computer’s microphone and listen in on your conversations
- Observe your online behavior
- Snoop through your documents
- Even take complete control of your computer
Enough is enough. The NSA has got to stop taking these kinds of liberties with the freedom and privacy of American citizens.
Unfortunately, my saying so is probably not going to change business-as-usual within the NSA.
And that means you need to take steps to make sure your own computer hasn’t been compromised by interdiction.
I know, I know… why on earth would you be a target? The truth is you’re probably not. But these are the same people who consider internet searches containing the words “dictionary,” “Reno,” “Tools” or “Daisy” to be a sign that you’re a potential terrorist. So, you never know.
The first way to protect yourself is the easiest. Just don’t buy a computer online. Make a trip to your local Best Buy or Staples to purchase your next laptop. The NSA intercepts computers that are en route to a targeted person or company. They don’t, as far as the information available suggests, tamper with computers that are shipped to retailers.
The next step is to remove any malware from your computer. More often than not, the NSA installs software, not hardware. A thorough sweep for malware can get rid of all but the most stubborn bits of nasty software. This is a multi-step process and requires some knowledge of—or at least some comfort with—computers.
The folks over at MalwareTips have one of the most comprehensive and easy-to-follow guides that I’ve found for this process. You can find it here.
An important note: back up your files before attempting to remove malware. That way if things go wrong, you won’t lose any important data.
Finally, if you suspect your computer’s hardware has been tampered with, consider taking your machine into a computer expert for a diagnostic. They may be able to identify security problems that you haven’t been able to track down.
In this day and age, it’s up to you to secure your privacy. If you don’t, you’d better believe some government bureaucrat or petty criminal will be only too happy to take advantage of you.
P.S. You are your own first line of defense when it comes to securing your privacy. If you don’t take steps to protect your personal details from prying eyes, you’ll become the target of identity thieves and government thugs. Don’t let that happen.
Use the comprehensive plan in my Ultimate Guide to Low Profile Living to avoid government snoops and become invisible to identity thieves. It’s the same plan I use myself, and it works! Reserve your copy today.