How the NSA Breaks Into Your Computer


The NSA reportedly uses phishing attacks sometimes, but we’ve learned that this step usually proceeds via a so-called “man-in-the-middle” attack.1 The NSA controls a set of servers codenamed “Quantum” that sit on the Internet backbone, and these servers are used to redirect targets away from their intended destinations to still other NSA-controlled servers that are responsible for the injection of malware. So, for example, if a targeted user visits “”, the target’s browser will display the ordinary Yahoo! landing page but will actually be communicating with a server controlled by the NSA. This malicious version of Yahoo!’s website will tell the victim’s browser to make a request in a background to another server controlled by the NSA which is used to deploy malware.

Once a victim visits a malicious website, how does the attacker actually infect the computer? Perhaps the most straightforward method is to trick the user into downloading and running software. A cleverly designed pop-up advertisement may convince a user to download and install the attacker’s malware, for example.


The Russian or Chinese mobs will set up a botnet for you starting at just $120 per 1,000 zombie-fied computers. And those are your prime American PCs with credit card numbers in them, not some crap machine in a closet somewhere in Bangalore.

What do you want to bet the NSA charges us a lot more than that, for the privilege of letting them spy on us?


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