The NSA's reach goes far deeper than most Americans imagined. In two reports released by German publication Spiegel, journalists found in whistleblower Edward Snowden's documents that the NSA has an elite hacking team called Tailored Access Operations (TAO) that has intercepted deliveries and bugged the electronics of individuals.
Spiegel found that TAOappears to have a protocol for intercepting deliveries. TAO can divert the deliveries of electronics to individuals or companies and take them into their own secret workshops. Agents open the packages, bug the electronics and return them for delivery to the recipients. Agents can then monitor activity remotely.
Spiegel points out that even Juniper Networks, a company that prides itself on products that can block hackers and unwelcome visitors, is not safe from TAO. Juniper is just one on a long list of companies infiltrated by TAO, which has also compromised the security of Cisco, Huawei, Samsung and Dell, to name a few.
TAO even has a catalog of products it uses when infiltrating these companies, reports Spiegel. For example, a rigged monitor cable that lets "TAO personnel to see what is displayed on the targeted monitor" costs just $30. TAO even has equipment that can mimic a mobile phone tower, monitoring cell phones in its vicinity. That costs $40,000.
Spiegel pointed out that the manufacturers of diverted products seemed to have no knowledge of TAO's activity.