By Steven Musil
The National Security Agency is using secret wireless technology that allows it to access and alter data on computers, even when they are not connected to the Internet, according to a New York Times report.
Since 2008, the agency has been increasingly using a “covert channel of radio waves” that can transmit from hardware installed in the computers, according to NSA documents and experts interviewed by the Times. Signals can then be sent to briefcase-size relay stations miles away, according to the report.
The NSA has also installed surveillance software on nearly 100,000 computers around the world, according to the Times. The newspaper said the Chinese Army was a frequent target of such technology but said there was no evidence that the agency used either technology inside the US.
Repeating earlier denials that its data collection activities are arbitrary or unconstrained, the NSA rejected any comparison to Chinese attackers who have been accused to planting similar software on computers belonging to US companies and government agencies.
“NSA’s activities are focused and specifically deployed against — and only against — valid foreign intelligence targets in response to intelligence requirements,” the NSA said in a statement. “In addition, we do not use foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies on behalf of — or give intelligence we collect to — U.S. companies to enhance their international competitiveness or increase their bottom line.”