Engadget reports that security guru Jacob Appelbaum told those at the Chaos Communications Congress this weekend that the NSA’s big box of tools includes Nightstand, a custom device that can compromise WiFi networks for the sake of inserting spy software. NIGHTSTAND hijacks the target network and uses packet injection to install exploits on the target network’s computers.
The Linux-powered device can exploit Windows systems from up to eight miles away. Nightstand may not see significant use today given that it dates back to 2008, but its existence suggests that the NSA also has newer, more advanced WiFi surveillance gear at its disposal.
NSA’s “active GSM base station”, for example, makes it possible to mimic a mobile phone tower and thus monitor cell phones — for $40,000.
The NSA can infiltrate virtually all areas of the iPhone, including voice mail, contact lists, instant messages, and cell tower location, in addition to reading cookies on browsers for access to browsing history and Google Analytics.
NSA Director Keith Alexander has made several appearances at major hacker conferences in the United States.
The NSA’s Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO, works together with other intelligence agencies such as the CIA and FBI. The NSA’s ANT division doesn’t just manufacture surveillance hardware. It also develops software for special tasks. The ANT developers have a clear preference for planting their malicious code in so-called BIOS, software.
According to Der Speigel, around 85,000 computers worldwide are projected to be infiltrated by the NSA specialists by the end of this year. By far the majority of these “implants” are conducted by TAO teams via the Internet. TAO can attack even isolated networks that aren’t connected to the Internet.