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American Computer Makers Lose Market Share Due To NSA’s Spyware

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

American computer makers are set to lose a significant percentage of business and market share thanks to the discovery of a new set of spyware within the hard drives manufactured by top hardware companies. Dubbed as the “The Equation Group”, the malware was reportedly injected into the hard drives by the American intelligence agency NSA and was discovered by the Russian security company Kaspersky Lab.

As per the report published by Kaspersky earlier this year, intelligence agencies have been injecting the Equation malware into the firmware of hard drives manufactured by companies like Western Digital Corp, Seagate Technology Plc, Micron Technology, IBM, Toshiba Corp and Samsung Electronics since the year 2001. The security firm even called it one of the most sophisticated forms of spyware in existence which was being used to spy on targets in foreign countries. While Kaspersky did not name NSA in its report, the surveillance methodology used in the malware and the list of target countries leaves no doubt that the NSA or one of its peers was indeed behind the creation and propagation of the program.

Kaspersky also reveals just how dangerous the Equation malware was in real life. As per the details made available by the firm, the malware existed in the firmware section of the hard drives so it could not be deleted by formatting the drive or cleaned through an anti-virus program. The malware was also capable of re-infecting new data after the formatting of the drive was complete and it could even capture data which was being encrypted with a third-party encryption software. However, the scariest aspect of the program is that it has the capability of transferring stored data to the intelligence agencies even when the computer was never connected to the internet.

The Kaspersky report also says that malware was used to target individuals in several countries. While most of the targets were located in countries like Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Sudan; the malware was also discovered in the computers located in ally countries like England and Germany. In addition, the malware was being used to spy on activists and organizations who were located even inside United States.

Forrester Research says that American tech companies and service providers are set to take a hit of at least 180 billion dollars due to the discovery of the Equation Group of malware. Jake Laperruque from the Center for Democracy & Technology argued that the episode has led to the buildup of the opinion that American government and companies should not be trusted at any cost.

Andrew Jaquith, who works as chief technology officer at the cloud security firm SilverSky, even said that suspicion of US made products and vendors was at an all-time high. Tenet, a marketing firm, was of the opinion that the episode will have a long term impact on the hardware companies involved and the damage could even last for as long as five years. Overall, this represents yet another instance when the actions of NSA and its peers have affected the reputation of America and caused significant revenue loss to the American companies.

July 28, 2015

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