Glenn Greenwald, one of the central journalists presenting the Edward Snowden leaks, says in a new book that U.S. hardware sales to foreign nations are intercepted by the NSA and implanted with backdoors, according to ZDNet. “The NSA routinely receives—or intercepts—routers, servers and other computer network devices being exported from the US before they are delivered to the international customers,” said Greenwald in an article at The Guardian. “The agency then implants backdoor surveillance tools, repackages the devices with a factory seal and sends them on. The NSA thus gains access to entire networks and all their users.”
Such actions by the NSA—assuming they actually occur—are unsurprising. The U.S. government has banned hardware purchases from Huawei for similar reasons, claiming the Chinese government installs backdoors. Whether these claims are actually true is uncertain, but “NSA fatigue” may be a growing concern. The spy agency has violated privacy (and the U.S. Constitution) on so many counts that yet another exploit is virtually old news even when it is first disclosed. Despite the “national security” rhetoric, however, NSA spying is likely more about garnering economic and diplomatic advantages than about protecting the nation from any real threat. Time will tell whether this revelation has any effect on U.S. hardware exports, following the pattern of the cloud market.
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