The U.S. National Security Agency is reported to have implanted malicious software in nearly 100,000 computers worldwide, allowing the U.S. to conduct surveillance on those machines while creating a digital highway for launching cyber attacks. The New York Times reported that the N.S.A. inserts most of the software by gaining access to computer networks, but has also increasingly made use of a secret technology that enables it to enter and alter data in computers even if they are not connected to the internet. The report, which cites N.S.A. documents, U.S. officials and computer experts, said the technology relies on a covert channel of radio waves that can be transmitted from tiny circuit boards and memory cards physically inserted into the computer. The Times also said that the N.S.A. has successfully implanted the software into such targets as Russian military networks, systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, trade groups inside the European Union, and anti-terrorism partners such as Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan. The newspaper claimed that there is so far no evidence the N.S.A has implanted its software or used the radio frequency technology inside the United States. The details of the N.S.A.’s surveillance efforts are part of the scores of documents leaked by former N.S.A. contractor Edward Snowden that created a firestorm of criticism. President Barack Obama will deliver a speech Friday outlining what steps he will take to reform the agency’s practices.
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