The NSA Pays Contractor To Hack Your Cell Phone
Have you ever heard of Endgame Systems? Well, they have heard of you – or at least your data. According to an expose by Wired on the NSA, Endgame Systems provides the NSA with capabilities to break into your internet connected devices such as cell phones, tablets, desk tops, and lap tops. Your digital life is at their fingertips.
One of the most secretive of these contractors is Endgame Systems, a startup backed by VCs including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Bessemer Venture Partners, and Paladin Capital Group. Established in Atlanta in 2008, Endgame is transparently antitransparent…
According to news reports, Endgame is developing ways to break into Internet-connected devices through chinks in their antivirus armor. Like safecrackers listening to the click of tumblers through a stethoscope, the “vulnerability researchers” use an extensive array of digital tools to search for hidden weaknesses in commonly used programs and systems, such as Windows and Internet Explorer. And since no one else has ever discovered these unseen cracks, the manufacturers have never developed patches for them.
Endgame Systems provides clients with “Zero-day exploits” meaning an attack can be launched on a computer or computer system at day zero of awareness of the vulnerability. No one, including the company that makes the device or system, is aware of the weakness.
Endgame Systems also provides worldwide target location information. The information is not limited in any way – any device connected to the internet can be located for Endgame clients.
Endgame also offers its intelligence clients—agencies like Cyber Command, the NSA, the CIA, and British intelligence—a unique map showing them exactly where their targets are located. Dubbed Bonesaw, the map displays the geolocation and digital address of basically every device connected to the Internet around the world, providing what’s called network situational awareness…
Bonesaw also contains targeting data on US allies, and it is soon to be upgraded with a new version codenamed Velocity, according to C4ISR Journal. It will allow Endgame’s clients to observe in real time as hardware and software connected to the Internet around the world is added, removed, or changed. But such access doesn’t come cheap. One leaked report indicated that annual subscriptions could run as high as $2.5 million for 25 zero-day exploits.
Total Information Awareness eat your heart out. Lots of information means lots of money. But isn’t the NSA buying protected and sensitive information on other countries? Couldn’t that constitute an attack on said countries?
The buying and using of such a subscription by nation-states could be seen as an act of war. “If you are engaged in reconnaissance on an adversary’s systems, you are laying the electronic battlefield and preparing to use it,” wrote Mike Jacobs, a former NSA director for information assurance, in a McAfee report on cyberwarfare. “In my opinion, these activities constitute acts of war, or at least a prelude to future acts of war.”
The question is, who else is on the secretive company’s client list? Because there is as of yet no oversight or regulation of the cyberweapons trade, companies in the cyber-industrial complex are free to sell to whomever they wish. “It should be illegal,” says the former senior intelligence official involved in cyberwarfare. “I knew about Endgame when I was in intelligence. The intelligence community didn’t like it, but they’re the largest consumer of that business.”
Of course there is no oversight or regulation, how can you regulate something secret and illegal?
Given that the United States is using all these shady contractors and performing cyberwarfare operations like Stuxnet one has to wonder if the U.S is the one starting the “cyberwar” it claims to need all this money and unconstitutional power to stop.