The Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in England weren’t just interested in hard drives nor did they destroy whole devices. An examination of the targeted hardware by Privacy International, with cooperation from the Guardian, has found the whole episode to be more troubling and puzzling than previously believed.
The GCHQ & NSA work hand in hand, click here & here to read more.
Need more proof? Click here to read how the NSA tampers with U.S. made internet routers.
During Privacy International’s investigation, they were surprised to learn that a few very specific components on devices, such as the keyboard, trackpad and monitor, were targeted along with apparently trivial chips on the main boards of laptops and desktops. Initial consultation with members of the technology community supported our identification of the components and that the actions of GCHQ were worth analyzing further.
In other words, GCHQ weren’t trying to destroy the data — which they, like everyone else, knew was completely futile. There were interested in “apparently trivial chips on the main boards of laptops and desktops.” Specifically, these were the keyboard controller chip, the trackpad controller chip and the inverting converter chip. Privacy International provides more details:
From Privacy International’s analysis, they believe the targeted component of the keyboard is the keyboard encoder responsible for communicating over the USB and interpreting key presses on its various I/O pins.
What does GCHQ know about our computers that we don’t?
They examined all the destroyed components, and while much was destroyed, our intial investigation will look to find out more about the following components targeted by GCHQ:
Keyboard controller chip
Trackpad controller chip
Inverting converter chip
With such a wide range of chip manufacturers, it is impossible to know for certain which vendor produced the actual chips destroyed on the model in question. However, we hope the device manufacturers can shed some light on their preferred sources for such components. Furthermore, without cooperation from the device manufacturers it is impossible to know the precise role played by the component in the overall operation of the device.
Whatever the actual vendor and role of the chip, we need to know more about why GCHQ/NSA believes that these components can store user data and retain that data without power.