A newly-discovered slide supposedly discovered from the documents leaked by Edward Snowden earlier this year seems to show that the NSA has deployed malware on more than 50,000 computer networks around the world.
According the Dutch media outlet NRC, who first released the information, the slide is from a 2012 NSA management presentation, and shows a world map which is criss-crossed with a web of “Computer Network Exploitation” access points. According to the Dutch news outlet, the malware present on these networks was intended to steal sensitive information from around the world.
In August of this year, the Washington Post also reported on a so-called “hacking unite” which reportedly exists within the NSA itself. According to reports, the NSA use a team of agents to gather information of foreign targets by hacking into computers and stealing data or monitoring their communications.
If such reports are true, then the malware allegedly spread to over 50,000 computer networks around the world is most likely part of the hacking unit’s efforts. Malware can easily be used to absorb information from infected computers and discretely send it back to hackers. Whilst this is normally used by identity thieves to steal credit card information, it is not unlikely that the NSA should also use it for intelligence gathering.