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#Public Sector

NSA posed as Facebook to spread surveillance malware

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Latest leaks by the whistleblower Edward Snowden reveal that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been disguising itself as a Facebook server in order to gain access to the computers of intelligence targets.

The new document dump also includes a minute-long video from NSA, marked as “top secret” that details how the agency posed as Facebook.

According to a slide leaked, the deception involving Facebook was one of several techniques used by the NSA to conduct surveillance on millions of computers.

“In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social-media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,” read the report in The Intercept.

“In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.”

The report claims that NSA spread malware under a program called TURBINE, which was allegedly part of a larger intelligence initiative called “Owning the Net.”

The initiative also includes a number of targeted operations with codenames, but the one called QUANTUMBOT, purportedly used Facebook to gain access to computers around the globe. The report also noted that NSA’s posing Facebook operation began back in 2010.

Facebook said it had no knowledge about this NSA “man in the middle” spy program. “We have no evidence of this alleged activity,” said Facebook spokesperson Jay Nancarrow.

“In any case, this method of network level disruption does not work for traffic carried over HTTPS, which Facebook finished integrating by default last year. If government agencies indeed have privileged access to network service providers, any site running only HTTP could conceivably have its traffic misdirected.”

However, it is unclear that how many users might have been targeted by this NSA’s Facebook strategy.