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NSA used malware to infiltrate 50,000 networks worldwide, leaks reveal

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The NSA infected more than 50,000 computer networks across the globe with malware capable of collecting sensitive information, reports NRC Handelsblad. The figure is based on documents leaked by Edward Snowden and is reportedly current as of the middle of last year. The malware is said to be distributed by the NSA's Tailored Access Operations group (TAO), the activities of which were also detailed in August by The Washington Post. Like the Post's report, this malware is said to function as a digital sleeper cell: it can be remotely turned on and off at the NSA's command.

The number of infected computer networks reported by NRC sounds right on track with NSA estimates reported by the Post in August. While the NSA is said to have only had just over 20,000 infected networks in 2008, it's reportedly aiming to have 85,000 by the end of this year as part of its GENIE program, under which TAO works to infect computers. It's not clear exactly what this malware is capable of, but the Post reported that the NSA has been developing a new version that could identify voice commands and only collect desired excerpts of information.