Report: Apple developing cloud infrastructure projects and servers to prevent USG/NSA snooping

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Jess13, Mar 23, 2016.

  1. Jess13 Suspended


    Nov 3, 2013
    Report: Apple developing at least 6 cloud infrastructure projects including servers to prevent snooping

    And when it comes to building its own servers, the report claims that Apple is partly motivated by the fact that it believes the servers it receives from third-parties have been “intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration.”

    At least part of the driver for this is to ensure that the servers are secure. Apple has long suspected that servers it ordered from the traditional supply chain were intercepted during shipping, with additional chips and firmware added to them by unknown third parties in order to make them vulnerable to infiltration, according to a person familiar with the matter. At one point, Apple even assigned people to take photographs of motherboards and annotate the function of each chip, explaining why it was supposed to be there. Building its own servers with motherboards it designed would be the most surefire way for Apple to prevent unauthorized snooping via extra chips.

    Photos of an NSA “upgrade” factory show Cisco router getting implant

    Servers, routers get “beacons” implanted at secret locations by NSA’s TAO team.

    A document included in the trove of National Security Agency files released with Glenn Greenwald’s book No Place to Hide details how the agency’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit and other NSA employees intercept servers, routers, and other network gear being shipped to organizations targeted for surveillance and install covert implant firmware onto them before they’re delivered.

    The NSA manager described the process:

    Here’s how it works: shipments of computer network devices (servers, routers, etc,) being delivered to our targets throughout the world are intercepted. Next, they are redirected to a secret location where Tailored Access Operations/Access Operations (AO-S326) employees, with the support of the Remote Operations Center (S321), enable the installation of beacon implants directly into our targets’ electronic devices. These devices are then re-packaged and placed back into transit to the original destination. All of this happens with the support of Intelligence Community partners and the technical wizards in TAO.


    NSA reportedly intercepting laptops purchased online to install spy malware

    According to a new report from Der Spiegel based on internal NSA documents, the signals intelligence agency's elite hacking unit (TAO) is able to conduct sophisticated wiretaps in ways that make Hollywood fantasy look more like reality. The report indicates that the NSA, in collaboration with the CIA and FBI, routinely and secretly intercepts shipping deliveries for laptops or other computer accessories in order to implant bugs before they reach their destinations. According to Der Spiegel, the NSA's TAO group is able to divert shipping deliveries to its own "secret workshops" in a method called interdiction, where agents load malware onto the electronics or install malicious hardware that can give US intelligence agencies remote access.

    While the report does not indicate the scope of the program, or who the NSA is targeting with such wiretaps, it's a unique look at the agency's collaborative efforts with the broader intelligence community to gain hard access to communications equipment. One of the products the NSA appears to use to compromise target electronics is codenamed COTTONMOUTH, and has been available since 2009; it's a USB "hardware implant" that secretly provides the NSA with remote access to the compromised machine.

    This tool, among others, is available to NSA agents through what Der Spiegel describes as a mail-order spy catalog. The report indicates that the catalog offers backdoors into the hardware and software of the most prominent technology makers, including Cisco, Juniper Networks, Dell, Seagate, Western Digital, Maxtor, Samsung, and Huawei. Many of the targets are American companies. The report indicates that the NSA can even exploit error reports from Microsoft's Windows operating system; by intercepting the error reports and determining what's wrong with a target's computer, the NSA can then attack it with Trojans or other malware.

    In response to Der Spiegel's report, Cisco senior vice president John Stewart wrote that "we are deeply concerned with anything that may impact the integrity of our products or our customers' networks," and that the company does "not work with any government to weaken our products for exploitation." Other US companies have fired back against reports of NSA tampering in recent months, including Microsoft, which labeled the agency an "advanced persistent threat" over its efforts to secretly collect private user data within the internal networks of Google and Yahoo.

  2. thermodynamic Suspended


    May 3, 2009
    Seems a change of pace.

    But Apple used to get sued because iOS apps would take customer data freely, with no oversight... along with other issues that got Apple in hot water. Just for different contexts, apps stealing data versus helping terrorists are two radically different approaches to security. Apple is just doing what it takes for Apple to profit. The marketing stunt known as "fighting the good fight against the FBI" was nothing of substance. Glad the TPP didn't pass, Apple suing government for anything it believed hampering its profits would not be good. But some people really want an oligarchic plutocracy...
  3. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    Nothing stops NSA snooping....

    Companies can only protect what they know is happening... Which is why the NSA doesn't target companies,, there are bigger fish to fry if u just target 30 companies in one fell swoop upstream then target each one individually.

    Even if Apple were to do their own cloud service they would still need data centers, and the tapping can happen there.
  4. LizKat macrumors 601


    Aug 5, 2004
    Catskill Mountains
    So we go from the excitement of "what's in the box?" when contemplating a new gear purchase, to wondering "who's in the fiberoptic cable?" 24/7, no matter whether our gear is new or old or who made it. Always spoiling our fun the govts!
  5. NT1440 macrumors G5


    May 18, 2008
    Beat me to the punch on the specifics of the interception programs, nice job.
  6. Jess13 thread starter Suspended


    Nov 3, 2013

    That may be true, but NSA interdicts to enable snooping. Without interdiction, possibly safe(r).

Share This Page