A new story from the New York Times claims the NSA can hack computers even if they are not connected to the Internet. The caveat though is that this is only possible if the computer contains a tiny transceiver, these spy chips are said to be really small and can be hidden in devices as tiny as a USB cable. The NSA can then broadcast radio waves from up to eight miles away and insert packets of data in milliseconds. According to the report, as many as 100,000 machines have been intercepted and fitted with these spy chips since the program became active in 2008.
Dubbed Quantum, this program "relies on a covert channel of radio waves" that can be broadcast from up to eight miles away and "insert packets of data in milliseconds." It also requires some hardware on the receiving end. According to the NYT, the covert communications target tiny transceivers that can be hidden inside computers or devices as small as USB cables. Implanting one of those bugs requires physical access to the machine, of course, but that shouldn't be a problem for NSA spooks. The agency reportedly has a program in place to intercept PC shipments for the purpose of installing software and "hardware components."
Active since 2008, the Quantum program may have compromised as many as 100,000 machines. The NYT claims there's no evidence of domestic use, though. Targets reportedly included the Chinese and Russian military, drug cartels, European trade institutions, and countries like Saudia Arabia, India, and Pakistan.