In short words, the American spooks may be going to infect millions of machines all over the world with kinds of malware "implants" able to break into targeted PCs and to extract information from foreign Internet and phone networks.
GCHQ, the UK intelligence agency, seems to have also played an integral role in helping to develop this tactic. Actually, this is getting annoying – apparently, what the US can't invent on its own, it relies on someone else to do for it.
In one case, the NSA pretended a fake Facebook server, thus using the social network as a launching pad to infect people’s computers and exfiltrate files from a hard drive. In another case, it has sent out spam emails laced with the malware. The latter could be tailored to covertly record audio from a device’s microphone along with taking snapshots with its webcam. Finally, the hacking systems have also allowed the agency to carry out cyber attacks by corrupting and disrupting file downloads or denying access to Internet sites.
Snowden leaks also mention an automated system dubbed TURBINE, which allowed the current implant network to scale to millions of implants by creating an automated system controlling them by groups rather than individually.
The idea of the NSA is to create a botnet operating“like the brain”. In other words, the system should manage the applications and functions of the implants and be able to decide what tools they need to siphon out information from people’s computers.