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Photos of an NSA “upgrade” factory show Cisco router getting implant Servers, routers get “beacons” implanted at secret locations by NSA’s TAO team – Ars Technica


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.

These Trojan horse systems were described by an NSA manager as being “some of the most productive operations in TAO because they pre-position access points into hard target networks around the world.”

The document, a June 2010 internal newsletter article by the chief of the NSA’s Access and Target Development department (S3261) includes photos (above) of NSA employees opening the shipping box for a Cisco router and installing beacon firmware with a “load station” designed specifically for the task.

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.



Greenwald has said the next story is the most explosive yet… it’s due to be released in 1-2 months.

It details AMERICAN citizens under surveillance by the NSA and the REASONS.  If this proves to be because of Trade Union membership, gay or black rights, that old phrase “light blue touch paper and stand well back” could have a whole new meaning.

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