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  • NSA Infects 50,000 Networks With Malware
Technology Articles > Software > Security & Privacy > NSA Infects 50,000 Networks With Malware

There's been no shortage of NSA coverage lately. From the time that word got out about the NSA's activities until now, the world has not forgotten all that the NSA has been accused of. Now, we find out that there's one more thing nobody knew about.

The NSA used malware to infect more than 50,000 computer networks throughout the world.

The Scoop

This morning, information about the NSA's activities got a lot more real. The world discovered that the agency used a specific type of malware to infiltrate and infect networks across the globe. Why? How?

This malware gathered up specific and intimate details about networks and users.

The NSA then used these details to effectively spy on people. If that doesn't make you completely paranoid, not much will. There's more too.

The malware that the NSA used was, essentially, a sleeping program. What does that mean? The organization could turn it on, activate it at a whim, and then collect information as was needed. How do we know about this malware? Edward Snowden, of course.

It's Not Done

Since there has been no real court order for the NSA to stop its activities, the organization aims to infect additional networks by the end of this year. How many networks? Around 85,000. This program isn't new either. Operation 'GENIE' was started in 2008. As you might have guessed, the NSA has gained lots of information since that time.

Some press outlets report today, too, that the NSA's program was in its infantile state previously. The newest addition to the program will be voice activated, and this new program will be able to collect very specific details. This means that the NSA doesn't have to gather a ton of information about networks and people. Instead, organization operators can simply ask the program to pick up on various details.

Where Is the Line Drawn?

Were a citizen of the U.S. to use similar malware programs, that person would certainly be arrested and thrown in jail. So, why can the NSA continue to operate in this manner? Simply put: because the NSA is government run, and that means that the organization can largely do what it wants to. Is it a scary notion? You bet. Is it one that's necessary? That's up for debate.

For some, the NSA and all of its activities are necessary in order to keep the U.S. safe from attacks. By spying on specific people, the government can determine which people pose a threat - if any. It's hard to ignore that side of the coin completely (even though you may want to). But, where can the line be drawn? How much is too much? And, if you're on the side of the government, how can Snowden-type leaks be prevented in the future?

As more and more NSA details unfold, it becomes clear that we only know a fraction of the actual story. The rest still remains to be written, and that's something that worries a lot of people. How about you?

Photo by Kevin Dooley via Flickr Creative Commons