COMPUTER hackers usually get a bad press. But the mass surveillance now known to have been undertaken by the US National Security Agency and its allies may go some way towards changing that. The reason? To protect ourselves from snooping, we need to understand how it is done – and few people outside the intelligence services are better equipped to do so than hackers.
We now report how computer-security researchers have started to reverse-engineer the spying gadgets listed in the catalogue to work out how they operate (see “ Hackers reverse-engineer NSA’s leaked bugging devices “).
Thanks to their skills, we now know how the NSA’s novel bugs capture and transmit the images being viewed on computer screens, send keystrokes as they are typed and ensure viruses that monitor PC use can never be removed.
What the hackers are doing is unlikely to win any high-profile accolades like Pulitzer prizes. Nonetheless, their efforts are just as important as whistle-blower Edward Snowden’s leaks in protecting us from overbearing intelligence agencies.
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