The NSA has a cunning plan to set up botnets and use their victims to spy on people, according to new files found in the Edward Snowden collection.
The files show that the National Security Agency is dramatically expanding its ability to hack into computers on a mass scale by using automated systems that reduce the level of human oversight in the process.
Apparently the US spooks want to infect millions of computers worldwide with malware "implants" which can break into targeted computers and to siphon out data from foreign Internet and phone networks.
GCHQ, the British intelligence agency, appears to have played an integral role in helping to develop the implants tactic which is getting annoying. It seems what the Americans can't invent they rely on the British to do for them.
One trick had the NSA masquerade as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target's computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In others, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer's microphone and take snapshots with its webcam. The hacking systems have also let the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.
An automated system, codenamed TURBINE, allows the current implant network to scale to "millions of implants by creating a system that does automated control implants by groups instead of individually."
The idea is to create a botnet which which is designed to operate "like the brain". The system manages the applications and functions of the implants and "decides" what tools they need to best extract data from infected machines.