Hackers at a top-secret
The Tailored Access Operations cyberwarfare intelligence-gathering unit, which is supposed to gather information on computer systems used by non-U.S. entities, has attacked the firmware in hard drives made by
Operating at a former
"It is not about the quantity produced but the quality of intelligence that is important," a former TAO chief wrote, describing her work in a document
The document quotes a former unit head as saying TAO has contributed "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen."
Spyware TAO sometimes plants on intercepted equipment deliveries, which lets it gain remote access to the computer systems once they are delivered and installed, the magazine said.
The remote access happens through so-called backdoor malware programs, which bypass normal authentication and secure illegal remote access to computers, hard drives, routers and other devices, the magazine said.
In these and other ways, "it appears the U.S. intelligence agency is compromising the technology and products of American companies,"
The magazine described a 50-page product catalog of tools and techniques an NSA division called ANT, which stands for Advanced or Access Network Technology, uses to gain access to devices.
The ANT division plants malicious code in so-called BIOS, or the Basic Input/Output System, of software located on a computer's motherboard that is the first thing to load when a computer is turned on, said the magazine, which previously reported on documents leaked by former NSA contractor
Sunday's report did not cite Snowden but said it was partly compiled by
The NSA's phone data-collection program was ruled legal by a federal judge in
The NSA declined to comment on
"Tailored Access Operations is a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies," the NSA said in a statement.
"We won't discuss specific allegations regarding TAO's mission, but its work is centered on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection," the statement said.
None of the other cited tech companies had immediate comment on the report.
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