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Kaspersky's NSA HDD Firmware Spying Revelations - Data Was Never Safe

By: Anthony Garreffa | Editorials in Storage | Posted: Feb 18, 2015 5:12 pm

Of Course They Don't

 

Storage companies have all said that they have no knowledge of these spying backdoors from the NSA, but whoever installed the backdoors into these HDDs must have had access to every company's proprietary source code.

 

Kaspersky research Costin Raiu said in an interview that "there is no chance that someone could rewrite the [hard drive] operating system using public information". This means that the HDD companies were either completely complicit and are lying to save their own skin - as this could go very bad for them, being brought up on severe legal charges, or their companies getting slammed on the stock market.

 

No one knows how the NSA could've obtained the source code, but this fact alone is worse than anything North Korea did to Sony, but we're not seeing any action from the Obama administration over this. No sanctions on the NSA, no mainstream media blasting its message to the people. Nothing.

 

kasperskys-nsa-hdd-firmware-spying-revelations-data-never-safe_06

 

Western Digital and Seagate have had spokespeople come out and discuss the matter in a few words, with WD spokesman Steve Shattuck saying that the company "has not provided its source code to government agencies", while Seagate spokesman Clive Over said that it has "secure measures to prevent tampering or reverse engineering of its firmware and other technologies". But guys, it doesn't matter - your products have been infiltrated. The United States government has somehow done the impossible, and you need to come out and change it.

 

But, you know what? There's no use. Again, this may be an alarming 'opinion editorial' piece - but there is plenty of fact here. Sure, storage companies can come out and say that they didn't provide their willing help in providing source code or other proprietary information, but the United States government did.

 

These storage giants have worked for decades to build the trust of the people, allowing consumers to store copious amounts of their precious, personal data on their consumer HDDs. Most people encrypt, or password protect their systems and storage - but why bother when there's a backdoor from the United States government on it? You can't erase it. You can't delete it. You can't get around it. It's operating system agnostic. It's in the firmware.

 

Not only are consumers being hit, but nuclear plants, governments, military installations and many more have these HDDs installed with an all-seeing eye attached.

 

Vincent Liu, a partner at security consulting firm Bishop Fox and a former NSA analyst has said that the NSA has many different ways of securing source code from these companies. They can either ask them directly, or pose as a software developer. This way, if a company wants to sell its products to the Pentagon, or another US agency, the government can request a security audit to make sure the source code is 'safe'. Ironic, isn't it?

 

Liu said "they don't admit it, but they do say, "We're going to do an evaluation, we need the source code". He added that "it's usually the NSA doing the evaluation, and it's a pretty small leap to say they're going to keep that source code". This is where it gets kind of ironic, funny, and quite scary as NSA spokeswoman Vinee Vines says that the NSA complies with the law and the White House directives to protect the United States and its allies 'from a wide array of serious threats'. Because infecting the HDDs and breaking countless privacy laws at home, and abroad, is a great idea.

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