Tailored Access Operations
||It has been suggested that Office of Tailored Access Operations be merged into this article. (Discuss) Proposed since June 2013.|
Tailored Access Operations (TAO) is a cyber-warfare intelligence-gathering unit of the National Security Agency (NSA). TAO identifies, monitors, infiltrates, and gathers intelligence on computer systems being used by entities hostile to the United States. Sean Gallagher of ArsTechnica describes how TAO functions are integrated into analytic software such as XKeyscore
In an anonymous interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, former US officials stated the unit uses automated hacking software to harvest approximately two petabytes of data per hour which is largely processed automatically.
A leaked document describing the unit's work says that TAO has software templates allowing it break into commonly used hardware, including “routers, switches and firewalls from multiple product vendor lines". According to The Washington Post, TAO engineers prefer to tap networks rather than isolated computers, because there are typically many devices on a single network.
- The NSA's New Code Breakers (October 15, 2013)
- Kingsbury, Alex (June 19, 2009). "The Secret History of the National Security Agency". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Kingsbury, Alex; Anna Mulrine (November 18, 2009). "U.S. is Striking Back in the Global Cyberwar". U.S. News & World Report. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Riley, Michael (May 23, 2013). "How the U.S. Government Hacks the World". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved 23 May 2013.
- Aid, Matthew M. (8 June 2010). The Secret Sentry: The Untold History of the National Security Agency. Bloomsbury USA. p. 311. ISBN 978-1-60819-096-6. Retrieved 22 May 2013.
- Gallagher, Sean (August 1, 2013). "NSA’s Internet taps can find systems to hack, track VPNs and Word docs". Retrieved August 8, 2013.
- Barton Gellman; Ellen Nakashima (August 30, 2013). "U.S. spy agencies mounted 231 offensive cyber-operations in 2011, documents show". The Washington Post. Retrieved 7 September 2013. "Much more often, an implant is coded entirely in software by an NSA group called Tailored Access Operations (TAO). As its name suggests, TAO builds attack tools that are custom-fitted to their targets. The NSA unit’s software engineers would rather tap into networks than individual computers because there are usually many devices on each network. Tailored Access Operations has software templates to break into common brands and models of “routers, switches and firewalls from multiple product vendor lines,” according to one document describing its work."
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