A new batch of government documents pilfered by Edward Snowden, who is now living in Russia, were made known by The Washington Post today, one that showed a detailed budget and hinted at encryption decoding efforts by the NSA. A different one, however, had another interesting thing to bring to light: the NSA has a super secret collective of hackers.
The hackers work under a unit called Tailored Access Operations, TAO for short, and are reportedly an important part of the NSA, a team tasked with hacking into the computers of foreign targets. With TAO’s efforts, communications are monitored and information is stolen. Furthermore, the team is also reportedly responsible for developing cyberattack methods.
In addition – and with a hint of James Bond flair – the leaked documents show that about 600 members work as part of TAO in what is said to be an “ultramodern” Remote Operations Center within the main NSA headquarters. These members reportedly work in rotating shifts so that the unit is operating 24/7. This team, said sources, has been elbows deep in Chinese telecom and computer systems for nearly 15 years.
The team isn’t so secret that it can’t be discussed on LinkedIn, however, where The Washington Post found current and former workers who list some of the unit’s achievements. Among these individuals is said to be Dean Schyvincht, listed as a TAO Senior Computer Network Operator who claims a group of 14 personnel have performed over 54,000 Global Network Exploitation operations for the NSA.
SOURCE: The Washington Post