Dell, Cisco 'Deeply Concerned' Over NSA Backdoor Exploit Allegations


The Spiegel report said there is no indication that the companies whose products were listed in the catalog were working with or supporting the NSA.

According to Spiegel, the ANT -- which stands for either Advanced or Access Network Technology -- works alongside the NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit, providing "special tools" for data-skimming and monitoring anything from mobile phones, to PCs, to networking equipment.

In response to a CRN request the NSA confirmed the existence of the Tailored Access Operations, describing it as "a unique national asset that is on the front lines of enabling NSA to defend the nation and its allies."

The agency declined to comment on the Spiegel report. "We won’t discuss specific allegations regarding TAO’s mission, but its work is centered on computer network exploitation in support of foreign intelligence collection," the NSA stated in an email to CRN.

In a follow-up report Monday, Spiegel highlighted some of the specific implant technologies included in the leaked catalog. These included "Jetplow," a firm-ware resistant implant for Cisco PIX and ASA Firewalls; "Nightstand," a mobile system for wireless injection of exploits for Windows systems; and "Surlyspawn," a software implant that can log keystrokes, even when a computer is offline.

The Spiegel report comes as many U.S. technology vendors attempt to rebuild trust in their products, following a series of news leaks related to the NSA's global surveillance programs. Earlier this month, Microsoft said it's aiming to bolster encryption for data flowing between its Outlook.com, Office 365 and Windows Azure products in response to the NSA leaks.