NSA Trojan Firmware Widespread, U.S. International Tech Reputation May Suffer. Tech Privacy has Been a Myth.

from Gold Core MARKET UPDATE Today’s AM fix was 1,221.75 USD, 1,072.56 EUR and 793.86 GBP per ounce. Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,233.50, EUR 1,81.12 and GBP 801.91 per ounce. The U.S. market was closed yesterday for a national holiday. New NSA spying scandal emerges, highlighting the scale of cyber wars – Agency can access hard-drives made by major U.S. producers – Computers in over 30 countries, including NATO allies, were hacked – Iran and Russia were main targets – Revelations may impact technology sector in the U.S. as institutions around the world seek alternatives Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based cyber security firm whose report into international hacking was previewed by the New York Times Yesterday, has exposed that the NSA has had the capacity to snoop on most U.S.-made computers since 2001. The report claims that the NSA attained access to “firmware” code from all the major Western computer manufacturers – which runs every time a computer is switched on – and figured out how to lodge malicious software in the code. The terminology may be foreign to you but imagine if you will what your world would be like if the digital records of your wealth and property titles simply vanished or became corrupted. Imagine the screen just going dark. It sounds alarmist but that is exactly the sum total of the high stakes games now being played out by the world’s superpowers – you and I are the pawns. The global economy is thoroughly integrated and processes and knowhow are increasingly delivered on distributed architecture made up of lattices of public and private networks. This approach has wonderful benefits and can deliver scale and flexibility and speed in equal measure. But therein lies the risk, the physical spying infrastructure with engineered back doors must remain hidden in order to be effective and useful to the spies who placed them there. What the intelligence community has done has created the mother of all “single point of failures” and the potential for calamity and social disintegration is almost too great to countenance. They assume that with adequate controls these systems can be kept safe and used effectively. They said the same about nuclear procurement and weaponised viruses. The fact is that in time marketable information will always eventually leak and be traded. Enemy interests would likely, as a priority action, seek to seize control of this infrastructure and either use it to attack American interest and allies or exploit its data collection capabilities – perhaps they already do. Remember, Snowden was a contractor and the access he had was incredible. The sheer arrogance of what they have done is staggering. Reuters reports

Kaspersky’s reconstructions of the spying programs show that they could work in disk drives sold by more than a dozen companies, comprising essentially the entire market. They include Western Digital Corp, Seagate Technology Plc, Toshiba Corp, IBM, Micron Technology Inc and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd.

A Kaspersky spokesman, Costin Raiu said “There is zero chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information,” indicating that the NSA was given the sensitive code by manufacturers. Continue Reading>>>

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