According to the latest collection of national security details leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the National Security Agency impersonated Facebook in an attempt to trick users into downloading malicious code in its attempt to install malware on ‘millions’ of computers.
The intelligence agency reportedly deployed malware code tailored to target specific machines. Once inside, the code gives the NSA total control of the computer.
The NSA dubbed the Facebook trick QUANTUMHAND.
The program was first reported by Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept.
‘In some cases the NSA has masqueraded as a fake Facebook server, using the social media site as a launching pad to infect a target’s computer and exfiltrate files from a hard drive,’ Greenwald reports, based on classified documents given to him by Snowden.
‘[The NSA] has sent out spam emails laced with the malware, which can be tailored to covertly record audio from a computer’s microphone and take snapshots with its webcam,’ Greenwald reports. ‘The hacking systems have also enabled the NSA to launch cyberattacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to websites.’
The program initially was tested on ‘about a dozen targets’ before it became more widely used in 2010, according to the report.