National Security whistleblower Edward Snowden claims the super-secret agency was responsible for taking down Syria’s internet two years ago.
The former NSA employee now living in Russia told WIRED the agency inadvertently took down the country’s only ISP when it attempted to insert a backdoor on the network.
Author James Bamford elaborates on Snowden’s claim:
One day an intelligence officer told him that TAO—a division of NSA hackers—had attempted in 2012 to remotely install an exploit in one of the core routers at a major Internet service provider in Syria, which was in the midst of a prolonged civil war. This would have given the NSA access to email and other Internet traffic from much of the country. But something went wrong, and the router was bricked instead—rendered totally inoperable. The failure of this router caused Syria to suddenly lose all connection to the Internet—although the public didn’t know that the U.S. government was responsible.
After the outage Syria blamed terrorists. The establishment media instead said Syria was behind the takedown in an effort to deny communication to mercenary groups trying to overthrow the al-Assad government.
In addition to taking out Syria’s internet, Snowden revealed the NSA attacked civilian infrastructure in China. Snowden previously said the NSA had hacked Chinese telecommunications equipment supplier Huawei. In the latest interview he said the United States had “crossed the lines” in its attack on China.
“We’re hacking universities and hospitals and wholly civilian infrastructure rather than actual government targets and military targets. And that’s a real concern,” he told Bamford.
Snowden also told WIRED the NSA has a cyberwarfare program dubbed MonsterMind that is able to attack targets without human intervention. He earlier voiced his concern that MonsterMind could lead to misdirected counterattacks.
“These attacks can be spoofed,” he told Wired. “You could have someone sitting in China, for example, making it appear that one of these attacks is originating in Russia. And then we end up shooting back at a Russian hospital. What happens next?”
Earlier this month Snowden released documents showing how the NSA used it foreign signals intelligence to target Palestinians.
“From the archives of top-secret documents provided by Snowden, the document reveals how the NSA provided financial assistance, along with weaponry and signals intelligence to Israel. This enabled the IDF to attack Palestinians, including those located in Gaza,” Anne Sewell wrote for Digital Journal.