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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid