Der Spiegel’s fairly harrowing report about the NSA’s hacking unit, Tailored Access Operations (TAO) got a little more harrowing this morning when an unnamed blogger at LeakSource published images from the agency’s hilariously-named and terrifying spy gear catalogue.
The 2008 catalogue shows off the tools of an NSA division called ANT which presumable stands for Access or Advanced Network Technology. Inside, you can see everything from a mobile phone software that gobbles up location information or activates the phone’s microphone to a USB stick that gives the NSA an open door into the computer’s hard drive. Since a lot of the software implants target the BIOS — the most basic software on a computer used to boot up the machine — they can’t be found or removed by wiping the hard drive. And some are as cheap as $US0.
We’ve listed a few of the sketchier items below, but it’s worth clicking though to Leaksource for the full catalogue.
HEADWATER: This so-called Persistent Backdoor (PBD) gives spies a way to access Huawei routers. This is particularly since Huawei is the company that recently threatened to stop doing business in the US due to spying.
NIGHTSTAND: This hardware lets spies break into WiFi network and deliver cyberattacks. It works as far away as 13km.
GOPHERSET: This is a phone hacker’s wet dream. It’s a GSM software implant that uses the SIM card’s API, known as the SIM Toolkit or STK, to send commands to the phone. From there, the spy can pull anything from lists of contacts to the content of text messages.
MONKEYCALENDAR: This software implant for GSM phones can grant spies access to all of a device’s geolocation information. And like GOPHERSET it can be installed over-the-air.
PICASSO: Now this is spyware. This software implants can collect call metadata, location data and even turn on the phone’s microphone to pick up conversations in the room. It also features something called a “panic button”, but the catalogue doesn’t explain its function.
COTTONMOUTH-I: It looks like a regular old USB stick but it’s actually a little spying computer. The catalogue says it creates “wireless bridge into a target network as well as the ability to load exploit software onto target PCs.”