NSA Claims It Foiled Nonsensical Plot to Destroy US Economy

Neither Plot Nor Claim of Foiling It Sounds Reasonable

by Jason Ditz, December 17, 2013

With more and more scandals emerging, the NSA is looking for silver linings anywhere it can get them. Today, it comes in the form of foiling a claimed plot to destroy the entire American economy – with computers.

The putative plot was based on the idea that there are “nation-states” who could invent a computer virus capable of forcing a false firmware update on every computer BIOS in the country, meaning all of them would stop working.

Most personal computers do indeed have a BIOS (though Macs use a different form of firmware), and many of them could theoretically be “bricked” by a failed BIOS update. That’s the true part of the story.

Beyond that, the NSA claim is totally nonsensical, as the NSA insists some unnamed nation was “going to do that” and then they stopped them by talking to PC manufacturers.

Neither of those claims holds up. There is no known way for malware to hit every different type of computer and BIOS en masse, and even if there was, there is no way the NSA could’ve secretly deployed a universal fix without anybody noticing, and no one did. Ultimately, this falls in the same category as the other “plots” the NSA claims it has foiled, nonsense that doesn’t hold up to even casual scrutiny.

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