The Washington Post has some more documents that reveal the offensive cyber-operations of US spy agencies. The cyber campaign is even broader and more aggressive than we first thought and uses movie-appropriate code names like GENIE, TAO, TURBINE and The ROC. Apparently, US spy agencies launched 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011.
Under GENIE, the US places 'covert implants', basically malware, into computers, routers and firewalls on tens of thousands machines every year. If all goes to plan, that number is supposed to become millions in the future.
Sometimes those implants require CIA operatives or clandestine military forces to physically implement them but the Washington Post says it's more often that a NSA group called Tailored Access Operations (TAO), codes an implant from software (with the goal being tapping into networks rather than individual computers). The Washington Post details:
The implants that TAO creates are intended to persist through software and equipment upgrades, to copy stored data, “harvest” communications and tunnel into other connected networks. This year TAO is working on implants that “can identify select voice conversations of interest within a target network and exfiltrate select cuts,” or excerpts, according to one budget document. In some cases, a single compromised device opens the door to hundreds or thousands of others.
Eventually in the next phase of offensive cyber-operations, US spy agencies will use an automated system called TURBINE that can manage millions of implants for gathering intelligence and actively attacking. You can read the whole Washington Post report here. [The Washington Post, Image Credit: Getty]