The top-secret National Security Agency document, which was provided anonymously to The Intercept and independently authenticated, analyzes intelligence very recently acquired by the agency about a months-long Russian intelligence cyber effort against elements of the U.
Comment In Januarynumerous homeowners An a for effort San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors.
They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn't budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop In the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians.
Ultimately, the municipal government solved the riddle. Fault for the error lay with the United States' foreign intelligence service, the National Security Agency, which has offices in San Antonio.
Officials at the agency were forced to admit that one of the NSA's radio antennas was broadcasting at the same frequency as the garage door openers. Embarrassed officials at the intelligence agency promised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and soon the doors began opening again.
It was thanks to the garage door opener episode that Texans learned just how far the NSA's work had encroached upon their daily lives. For quite some time now, the intelligence agency has maintained a branch with around 2, employees at Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio.
Inthe agency took over a former Sony computer chip plant in the western part of the city. A brisk pace of construction commenced inside this enormous compound. The acquisition of the former chip factory at Sony Place was part of a massive expansion the agency began after the events of Sept.
On-Call Digital Plumbers One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years -- the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO.
This is the NSA's top operative unit -- something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked. TAO's area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage.
The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO's disposal have become -- and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks.
The unit is "akin to the wunderkind of the US intelligence community," says Matthew Aid, a historian who specializes in the history of the NSA. In other words, the NSA's hackers have been given a government mandate for their work. During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to targets in 89 countries -- nearly everywhere in the world.
Init conducted operations worldwide. Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries.
They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry's BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted.
Achieving this last goal required a "sustained TAO operation," one document states. This TAO unit is born of the Internet -- created ina time when not even 2 percent of the world's population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter.
From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency.
Their task was clear from the beginning -- to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.
The TAO workers authorized to access the special, secure floor on which the unit is located are for the most part considerably younger than the average NSA staff member. Their job is breaking into, manipulating and exploiting computer networks, making them hackers and civil servants in one.
Many resemble geeks -- and act the part, too. Sometimes, Alexander wears his military uniform, but at others, he even dons jeans and a t-shirt in his effort to court trust and a new generation of employees.effort n noun: Refers to person, place, thing, quality, etc. (achievement) risultato, lavoro, sforzo, tentativo nm: opera nf: This picture's a pretty good effort, considering it was done from memory.
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He put a lot of effort into finishing the project on time. It wasn't easy, but it was worth the effort. We need to expend more effort.
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