China ‘captures’ US spy tool primed to be used as information stealing ‘cyber weapon’

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The tool, which has been described as a “Trojan Horse”, is reportedly used by the US National Security Agency (NSA). Trojan horse in computing refers to any malicious software hackers use to access other devices. The software reportedly used by the NSA is known as NOPEN.

It was reportedly found by China’s National Computer Virus Emergency Response Center (NCVERC).

According to NCVER, NOPEN is mostly used for stealing files, accessing systems, taking control of network communication, and lifting or viewing information from a targeted device.

NCVERC argued the software could be used with other cyber weapons – and claimed it is a typical tool used for cyber spying.

The spy system is said to have controlled global internet equipment and stolen large amounts of users’ information in the past.

Cybersecurity experts claimed that once the software is in a victim’s computer, it would “become a lurker”.

It would then wait for the “code” before opening the “vault door” so hackers could enter the system.

But, back in 2016, a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers were able to access leaked internal NSA documents.

They reportedly revealed that “NOPEN” is one of the agency’s most powerful tools used to steal top secret information.

This also comes after Edward Snowden, a former CIA contractor, exposed the NSA had been collecting telephone records of millions of Americans back in 2013.

It was revealed the NSA hacked into the servers of nine internet firms.

Once the NSA accessed the servers, it was able to tack online communication in a surveillance programme called Prism.

Mr Snowden claimed the NSA committed more than 61,000 hacking operations all across the world, including many in China.

A Chinese cybersecurity expert told the Global Times: “As the research and development arm of the world’s top military power, the NSA cannot develop weapons that rust in their arsenals.

“The international community has learned from the PRISM scandal that the US military intelligence agency has been conducting network monitoring and cybertheft of countries around the world for a long time.

“These cyber weapons are an important means of its implementation of network monitoring.”

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The expert claimed that NOPEN is one of the main tools that the NSA use.

Global Times, which is a state-owned newspaper in China, claims to have got news of NOPEN exclusively from the NCVERC.

But NOPEN was in the spotlight as early as 2016 back when the Shadow Brokers leaked the NSA documents.

That raises questions as to why China has chosen to bring NOPEN back into the public eye.

The Register reports: “Global Times has told us China has ‘captured a spy tool deployed by the US National Security Agency’, a spy tool that we’ve known about for years.

“Why China would like the world to once again know about NOPEN right now is anyone’s guess.”

The NSA has been approached for comment.

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