Leaked NSA Spy Gadgets

  • By Greg Kestin
  • Posted 08.31.15
  • NOVA

These NSA spy gadgets were recently leaked. What would you do if someone were using them to spy on you?

Running Time: 02:01


Everyone has secrets, but you might be amazed by some of the spy gear the NSA could use to uncover them. This is the A-N-T or ANT catalog. A 50-page document of NSA gadgets that was recently leaked. Here’s how a few of these gadgets might be used if someone were monitoring you. Imagine you’re having what seems like a normal day. You go to back up some private files to your external hard drive. You plug in the USB cord, but what you don’t know is that the USB has been replaced with something called “COTTONMOUTH-1.” A real NSA spy gadget that’s sold in packs of 50. Not only can it read your files, it can also control your computer. While your files “transfer,” you decide to kill some time by watching a video on your external monitor, connected by the VGA cable. But, little do you know, something called the “RAGEMASTER” is hidden in the wire. Just 30 dollars. It’s a retro-reflector, meaning it's dormant and nearly undetectable until someone nearby sends it a radar signal from yet another device, “NIGHTWATCH”. The radar signal travels to “RAGEMASTER” and reflects back, encoded with the video being sent to your monitor. The video you happen to be watching is about NSA spy gadgets in VGA and USB cables, so you get worried and unplug the external monitor and hard drive. Now you draft an email warning your roommate about the cords. But hidden in your keyboard is another retroreflector, “SURLYSPAWN,” tracking all your keystrokes. Your growing concern morphs into panic, so you close your computer, and decide to tell her when she comes home. But bad idea, because “LOUDAUTO” is hidden in your lamp and can hear anything within a 20 foot radius. It send out a radio signal encoded with your conversation. The “ANT Catalog” is the only information we have about these gadgets, so there’s no reason to think they’re in your home or office. But there appear to be endless possibilities for spy gadgets even crazier than you see in movies.



Written and produced by:
Greg Kestin
Special thanks to:
Lauren Aguirre
Chris Schmidt
D. Jacob
APM Music
Stock Footage of Circuitboard:


(Main image: spy gadget animation)
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2015

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