Shipping companies largely silent on NSA intercepting packages

Giuseppe Macri Tech Editor
Font Size:

Shipping giants FedEx and UPS haven’t said much since it was revealed Sunday that the National Security Agency intercepts electronics packages to install spyware, but what they have said implies they knew what the agency was up to.

Security researcher Jacob Appelbaum co-wrote a Der Spiegel article published Sunday detailing how the NSA intercepts newly purchased computer products mid-shipment to install surveillance malware before reaching the buyer without their knowledge.

“If a target person, agency or company orders a new computer or related accessories, for example, TAO [Office of Tailored Access Operations] can divert the shipping delivery to its own secret workshops,” Appelbaum wrote. “The NSA calls this method interdiction. At these so-called “load stations,” agents carefully open the package in order to load malware onto the electronics, or even install hardware components that can provide backdoor access for the intelligence agencies. All subsequent steps can then be conducted from the comfort of a remote computer.”

In response to Daily Caller inquiries to shipping companies UPS and FedEx asking whether they had knowledge of such a program and if they cooperated with the NSA, FedEx media relations’ Scott Fiedler responded with the following:

“The answer to your questions about ‘permission/cooperation, etc…’  is –  ‘No.'”

Fiedler decline to comment on whether FedEx was aware of the program, or give a statement describing FedEx’s official stance on the matter.

UPS declined to comment on repeated requests from TheDC.

During a weekend communication conference in Berlin, Appelbaum unveiled numerous previously unknown agency programs and capabilities that began as far back as 2007, including the NSA’s ability to hack private WiFi networks from almost 10 miles away.

Watch more from Appelbaum’s presentation at the Chaos Communications Congress here.

Follow Giuseppe on Twitter