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The spy on your desktop

We now come to learn that even unplugging from the Internet might not protect you. (AP Photo/File)

We’re used to the idea that computer attacks are going to be a constant threat.

Credit card hacks. Phony emails phishing for your password. Sometimes you’re tempted just to unplug yourself. Except, you’d lose all your friends and never get invited to anything.

But we now come to learn that even unplugging from the Internet might not protect you.

The latest revelation about the NSA, courtesy of the New York Times, is that since 2008, it’s been able to tap targeted computers without using the Internet by planting tiny transceivers. They’re so tiny they can be concealed either in the machine or in an ordinary-looking USB plug, that can monitor a computer and even change data without the computer being connected to anything.

The NSA then beams the data over a special radio channel which can’t be unplugged.

The point here is not that the NSA would ever hack your computer, (I’m sure you’re not planning a terrorist attack,) the point is that if the NSA can do it, the day is coming when other countries and various assortments of bad guys will be able to do it, too.

The president can rein in the NSA, but you can bet other countries won’t be reining in their snooping programs.

They see how totally dependent on computers we’ve become. We bank online. They see us moving toward computerized homes: the lights, the furnace, even cars controlled remotely.

How tough would it be, in those countries that build our computers, to add a little something to the circuit board as it moves down the assembly line?

And here’s a thought: you notice how Iran suddenly seems so willing to give up its nuclear program? They’ve finally figured out there’s no point in trying to challenge the U.S. on the battlefield. The wars of the future will be won at the keyboard.

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