Revelations about the underhand tactics used by the NSA to track millions of innocent people continue to flow with the report from The Intercept claiming that the security agency attempted infect the computers of millions of people with malware as part of a programme called “Turbine”.
Turbine was part of a larger initiative, called “Owning the Net”, and through it the NSA were able to infiltrate around 100,000 computers around the world, with plans to expand this to millions of computers in the coming years.
Turbine had various strands, but possibly the most worrying for the general public was the explicit targeting of users through Facebook since 2010 using something called “Quantumhand”, which is described by Greenwald in the report.
When a target attempts to log in to the social media site, the NSA transmits malicious data packets that trick the target’s computer into thinking they are being sent from the real Facebook. By concealing its malware within what looks like an ordinary Facebook page, the NSA is able to hack into the targeted computer and covertly siphon out data from its hard drive.
Facebook has distanced itself from any involvement in this programme, but with much of the NSA meddling in technology companies, the companies are banned from admitting or discussing their involvement, so no denial can be taken as fact.
Visualisation by Paul Butler