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The US can embed sophisticated hacking tools within the hard-drives of personal computers built by some of the world’s bigger manufacturers, according to research based in Russia.
Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based cyber security company, said it uncovered the spying software in computers made by big-name companies.
Some of the surveillance tools were hidden inside the hard drives: if a US role in developing the new cyber tools is confirmed, it could tarnish the reputation of their technology companies, after the damaging revelations about the US leaked by Edward Snowden in 2013.
Kaspersky Lab published the technical details of the spyware, and said it had been developed by an entity that had been operating for 20 years.
It also said the entity had solid links to the creators of Stinnet — the virus that attacked an Iranian nuclear facility and was developed by the US and Israel.
According to the Russians, one of the spy tools is embedded in the computer “firm Ware” code that sends messages to the rest of the computer when it is switched on — a development the Russian researchers described as an astonishing technical accomplishment.
The report said it is capable of spying on banks, governments, nuclear research facilities and Islamic activists.
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