Office of Tailored Access Operations
||It has been suggested that this article be merged into Tailored Access Operations. (Discuss) Proposed since June 2013.|
The Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) is a body within the United States National Security Agency tasked with gaining access to foreign computer systems. The NSA terms these activities "computer network exploitation" (CNE). It has been active since at least circa 1998.
TAO is reportedly "now the largest and arguably the most important component of the NSA's huge Signal Intelligence (SIGINT) Directorate, consisting of over 1,000 military and civilian computer hackers, intelligence analysts, targeting specialists, computer hardware and software designers, and electrical engineers."
According to a Bloomberg BusinessWeek article titled How the U.S. Government Hacks the World, Pentagon hackers within the NSA harvest nearly 2.1 million gigabytes of stolen data every hour. That is the equivalent of hundreds of millions of pages of text. For years, the NSA did not acknowledge the unit's existence, but a Pentagon official confirmed the unit conducts what it calls "computer network exploitation."
- Data Network Technologies Branch: develops automated spyware.
- Telecommunications Network Technologies Branch: improve network and computer hacking methods
- Mission Infrastructure Technologies Branch: operates the software provided above
- Access Technologies Operations Branch: Reportedly includes personnel seconded by the CIA and the FBI, who perform what are described as "off-net operations," which is a polite way of saying that they arrange for CIA agents to surreptitiously plant eavesdropping devices on computers and/or telecommunications systems overseas so that TAO's hackers can remotely access them from Fort Meade. Probably specially equipped submarines, currently USS Jimmy Carter, are used to wiretap fibre optic cables around the globe.
TAO's headquarters are termed the Remote Operations Center (ROC) and are based at Fort Meade, Maryland. TAO has also expanded to NSA Hawaii (Wahiawa, Oahu), NSA Georgia (Fort Gordon, Georgia), NSA Texas (Medina Annex, San Antonio, Texas), and Buckley Air Force Base, Denver.
- The NSA's New Code Breakers (October 15, 2013)
- Aid, Matthew M. (10 June 2013). "Inside the NSA's Ultra-Secret China Hacking Group". Foreign Policy. Retrieved 11 June 2013.
- Paterson, Andrea (30 August 2013). "The NSA has its own team of elite hackers". The Washington Post. Retrieved 31 August 2013.