Photo Gallery NSA's TAO Unit Introduces Itself

The NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit provides access in places where the intelligence service is unable to get to using traditional methods, like undersea Internet cables. An internal presentation shows how the specialists do their work.
1 / 16

The starting slide of a presentation about the Texas Cryptologic Center where many of the agents with the NSA's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit are based. At the bottom left is a modified version of Intel¿s logo, reading ¿tao inside¿ instead of ¿Intel Inside.¿ The pink bars conceal the names of NSA personnel.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
2 / 16

The presentation addresses the current status and future planning for TAO facilities in Texas.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
3 / 16

The staffing situation at the TAO facility in Texas as of 2008.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
4 / 16

Operations using the OLYMPUS spyware during the 2007 and 2008 fiscal years, FOXACID spam operations, and operations with the spying programs SHARPFOCUS and PARCHDUSK. FOXACID is a system used for infecting targets' computers with spying software. Originally, spam emails were also used, but these days the NSA utilizes its far more reliable QUANTUMINSERT methods.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
5 / 16

Operations at the Requirements & Targeting unit in 2008: Operations against Mexico, Cuba, the Middle East, Colombia and Venezuela have been carried out from the Texas facility.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
6 / 16

Operation "WHITETAMALE": This particular operation, named after a kind of Mexican food, was directed against the computer networks of politicians and security agencies in Mexico.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
7 / 16

Operation WHITETAMALE: A potential "goldmine for multiple customers," referring to the diverse US agencies that stand to profit from the spying actions, including the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Among the intelligence of interests to the "customers," according to this slide, are "drug trafficking, people smuggling and border security issues."

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
8 / 16

"Enabling Strategy": In order to achieve its self-stated goals, TAO in this instance targets "System Administrators & Telecommunication Engineers".

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
9 / 16

The fruits of spying: A digital dragnet in Mexico yielded network diagrams providing information about the computer networks of Mexican government agencies.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
10 / 16

Using information exploited by TAO workers, the unit was able to produce network diagrams showing computer descriptions, IP addresses and names of people (which have been pixilated here).

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
11 / 16

The goals of Operation WHITETAMALE: "Identify human targets of interest," "direct exploitation of WHITETAMALE" computers, "identify network targets of interest to get to these human targets," "access the network to exploit and collect traffic."

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
12 / 16

The personnel plan for TAO's Texas branch: The unit plans to grow from 57 employees to 270 within seven years.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
13 / 16

TAO's offices: Plentiful space for NSA server racks.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
14 / 16

A TAO facility with the codename "Baconridge" in San Antonio: 270 employees, 210 workstations and room for 200 server racks.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
15 / 16

Plans for the future: "Coop," "Development" -- DNT stands for Digital Network Technologies and ANT likely stands for Advanced Network Technologies or Access Network Technologies. CNA stands for Computer Network Access; CNE for Computer Network Exploitation.

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
16 / 16

The end of the presentation: Any questions?

Foto: SPIEGEL ONLINE
Die Wiedergabe wurde unterbrochen.