News / USA

Latest Revelations on NSA Likely to Change Little in US Cyber Spying

An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
An undated aerial handout photo shows the National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.
U.S. officials are reacting cautiously to revelations published in The New York Times that the National Security Agency has found a way to spy on computers even when they are not connected to the Internet.  Report says software was implanted into 100,000 computers worldwide.

The latest report on the spy agency comes as President Barack Obama prepares a major speech on possible reforms to the way U.S. agencies gather intelligence. But some experts warn the public should not expect too much to change.

"A lot of these tricks coming out about the NSA are tricks that everyone is using," said James Andrew Lewis.

James Andrew Lewis is a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

"You can make it more costly, you can make it harder, but the race isn’t going to stop.  This is just too important for nations - not just the U.S. - it’s too important for any major power to say, 'I will give up on signals intelligence.'  They all collect it; they will keep collecting it in the future," he said.

The report in The New York Times says the United States used radio transmitters embedded in cords and drives that are attached to a computer to successfully implant software into Russian military networks, systems used by Mexican police and drug cartels, and European Union trade groups.  The newspaper says the technology also was used to target computers in Saudi Arabia, India and Pakistan.

The White House is defending the spy agency, saying it "operates under heavy oversight and is focused on discovering and developing intelligence about valid and foreign intelligence targets such as terrorists, human traffickers and drug smugglers."

Already, the report has sparked criticism from China, with a Foreign Ministry spokesman saying Washington is "endangering the sovereignty, security and public privacy of other countries.''

Despite the criticism, former U.S. National Security Council member Raymond Tanter says he expects the U.S. to remain active and vigilant.

"The U.S. government is in position to correct for any national security implications with respect to countries like China.  China is doing as much as it can do.  Russia is doing as much as it can do.  Iran is doing as much as it can do," said Tanter.

Former congresswoman Jane Harman, who is now president of the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, made this plea to lawmakers at a hearing Wednesday:

"We need to have an effective system that can spot bad guys and prevent and disrupt plots against us," said Harman.

Jeff Seldin

Jeff works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters covering a wide variety of subjects, from the nature of the growing terror threat in Northern Africa to China’s crackdown on Tibet and the struggle over immigration reform in the United States. You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @jseldin or on Google Plus.

You May Like

India PM Modi's Party Distances Itself From Religious Conversions

BJP under fire for being slow to rein in hardline affiliate groups allegedly trying to promote Hindu-dominant agenda by luring Muslims and Christians to convert More

Anti-Whaling Group Found in Contempt of Court

Radical environmentalists who threw acid and smoke bombs at Japanese whalers in the waters off Antarctica continue their campaign to disrupt Japan's annual whale hunt More

UN's Ban Urges End to Discrimination Against Ebola Workers

Ban was speaking in Guinea on the second day of a whistle-stop tour aimed at thanking healthcare workers of the countries at the heart of the epidemic More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubansi
X
Sharon Behn
December 19, 2014 9:34 PM
For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video US Decision on Cuba Underscores Divisions Among Miami Cubans

For decades, older, more conservative Cubans have been gathering at Café Versailles on the corner of Calle Ocho to eat Cuban food and talk politics. After hearing of President Barack Obama’s decision, a number of them gathered in front of the café with posters to protest. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on the situation.
Video

Video Three Cities Bid for Future Obama Presidential Library

President Barack Obama still has two years left in his term in office, but the effort to establish his post-presidential library is already underway. The bid for the Obama Presidential Library is down to four locations in three states -- New York, Hawaii, and Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, each of them played an important part in the president’s life before he reached the White House.
Video

Video Cuba Deal is Major Victory for Pope’s Diplomatic Initiatives

Pope Francis played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal that was made public earlier this week. It is the most stunning success so far in a series of peacemaking efforts by the pontiff. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Fears of More Political Gridlock in 2015

2014 proved to be a difficult year politically for President Barack Obama and a very good year for the U.S. Republican Party. Republican gains in the November midterm elections gave them control of the Senate and House of Representatives for the next two years -- setting the stage for more confrontation and gridlock in the final two years of the Obama presidency. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone has a preview from Washington.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.

All About America

AppleAndroid