Sometimes it appears that the world’s most modern spies are just as reliant on conventional methods of reconnaissance as their predecessors.
Take, for example, when they intercept shipping deliveries. If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops. The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.
These minor disruptions in the parcel shipping business rank among the “most productive operations” conducted by the NSA hackers, one top secret document relates in enthusiastic terms. This method, the presentation continues, allows TAO to obtain access to networks “around the world.”
Even in the Internet Age, some traditional spying methods continue to live on.
Declan McCullagh: “If NSA ‘can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops,’ it’s time to pose some pointed questions to Post Office, UPS, FedEx. Seems like NSA would require not only broad access to USPS/Fedex/UPS databases, but active participation in diverting packages.”
UPDATE 03/18/2015 Cisco Using Dead Drops for Sensitive Customers to Avoid NSA Interdiction