- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Edward Snowden wants the world that the National Security Agency “likes” Facebook — a lot.

Glenn Greenwald’s Intercept website reported the infamous leaker’s newest revelation: The NSA uses a man-on-the-side technique, code-named QUANTUMHAND, to masquerade as a fake Facebook server in order to hack the computers of the agency’s targets.

Once a target attempts to log in to Facebook, the NSA transmits malicious data packets that fool the target’s computer into thinking they are legitimately from Facebook, enabling the NSA to access the target’s computer and the data from its hard drive.

If true, the move would put millions of users at risk.

The National Journal interviewed Harley Geiger, the senior counsel at the Center for Democracy & Technology who said that, if confirmed, the NSA would be acting like a giant “spambot.”

“The use of malware implants should be targeted against specific threats in tightly controlled situations, but this kind of mass automated surveillance would put countless Internet users at risk,” he said

SEE ALSO: Fugitive Edward Snowden added to speakers’ list at SXSW in Texas

Facebook denied having any knowledge of the NSA program, but said that other social networks could be infected with the malware.

“We have no evidence of this alleged activity,” a Facebook spokesman told the Journal. “In any case, this method of network level disruption does not work for traffic carried over HTTPS, which Facebook finished integrating by default last year. … If government agencies indeed have privileged access to network service providers, any site running only HTTP could conceivably have its traffic misdirected.”

The NSA responded to the National Journal with a statement: “Signals intelligence shall be collected exclusively where there is a foreign intelligence or counterintelligence purpose.”

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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