December 29, 2013 5:31 pm -

The NSA can install malware and spyware in computer before it reaches its final destination reports Spiegel Online.The Agency has a special hacking unit called Tailored Access Operations or TAO.

…the TAO program can intercept hardware like laptops before they’re shipped to a user and install malware on the devices that let spies track the owner. The process is called “interdiction” and allows the NSA to divert shipments of consumer devices to secret workshops where agents carefully open the packing so it looks like nothing was tampered with before installing the malware.

TAO agents can also use bugs in Microsoft’s Windows operating system to look for potential holes in a suspect ‘s machine. For example, whenever a Windows user gets a pop-up window with an error message, TAO can get a look at what data the user is sending over the Internet. That data can help TAO exploit holes in Windows and potentially install malware on machines.

Finally, TAO is able to tap into undersea cables that carry Internet traffic from large telecommunications companies oversea. This lets the NSA monitor Internet communications between countries.