Leaked NSA Designs Source of Hackers Spy Tools


The NSA doesn’t just have dominant Internet surveillance technologies; it also has old-school spying tools like bugs and gadgets that give the spies a wide range of ways to hack into a target’s mobile or computer. Last Year, when Snowden Revelations against NSA were on peak, Der Spiegel published a 48-page catalog of tools used by NSA to spy on people which was created in 2008 and was being used till 2013.

A group of hackers created the project the NSA Playset, to show makers and others of their kind how to build the spying tools and also to protect against them. This Idea came into the mind through security researcher Dean Pierce, who wanted to see how easy it would be to make the devices with Ossman and others joining the initiative shortly after. They said that it is not hard to reproduce the NSA Tools.

Michael Ossman, one of the hackers who’s part of the project  quoted, “To someone who is not an expert in the field, the capabilities in the catalog might seem far-fetched or ultra high-tech, what we want to show is that these capabilities are very much achievable and practical. And by pointing out how easy they are to achieve, we hope that we can raise awareness of security threats in our computer system.”

They added that there’s really nothing unique in what NSA is doing, only with a upperhand since they have the funds to support their projects and make more sophisticated equipment. Josh Datko, founder of Cryptotronix, and also part of the NSA Playset project said that it’s kind of surprisingly easy to recreate them.

What’s a retro reflector?

Ossmann has been eyeing on something called “retro reflector”, which in layman is essentially a bug.  “It’s an implant that when attached to a computer’s VGA cable, for example, can capture and transmit what’s being displayed on a screen and send it over-the-air to a nearby spy.

What is a WAGONBED?

Datko has been trying to reproduce a device called WAGONBED, another malicious bug that when installed in a computer or a server allows its operator to access it remotely via cellphone network, making the spying harder to detect. Accessing someone’s computer remotely is nothing new as we have softwares already doing that like teamviewer, although you need codes and access from the other person, but you get the picture.

Pierce, Ossmann, and Datko will be joined by a handful of other security researchers to announce and release all the details of their creations in four talks at the Def Con hacking conference that will be held in Las Vegas in August. The researchers want their NSA Playset to be a joint project and encourage others to get involved.

This read in the Introduction page of their website:

Welcome to the home of the NSA Playset.

In the coming months and beyond, we will release a series of dead simple, easy to use tools to enable the next generation of security researchers.

We, the security community have learned a lot in the past couple decades, yet the general public is still ill equipped to deal with real threats that face them every day, and ill informed as to what is possible.

Inspired by the NSA ANT catalog, we hope the NSA Playset will make cutting edge security tools more accessible, easier to understand, and harder to forget.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

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