I doubt that anyone would be surprised if the United States government went outright and said “We have an elite hacking team.” It’s the stuff we see in movies, but we also know that behind every conspiracy theory lies a grain of truth. No matter how small that grain may be. And, in the case of hacking and cyber terrorism, the United States government is certainly not going to let itself be left behind. Else, how can they ensure their own security?

Meet TAO: The NSA's Elite Hacking Team

So, meet TAO: the NSA’s elite hacking team

From Wikileaks to Snowden, the controversy surrounding government secrets and their activities has riled up the rest of the world’s population. And now, we hear of a special unit called TAO, Tailored Accessed Operations to be exact. The full name is as cryptic as can be. The acronym suits the nature of the job just as well.

So what is TAO?

The Washinton Post featured TAO recently, and it quoted Matthew M. Aid, who described TAO as:

“…a highly secret but incredibly important NSA program that collects intelligence about foreign targets by hacking into their computers, stealing data, and monitoring communications. Aid claims TAO is also responsible for developing programs that could destroy or damage foreign computers and networks via cyberattacks if commanded to do so by the president.”

That’s is coming out of the closet and admitting that the government has an elite hacking team, yes?

The team is based out of Fort Meade, where the NSA is headquartered. It is composed of about 600 team members who work round the clock (in shifts, naturally) to make sure that the government is on top of online activities that need their attention.

If you want to know more about TAO, you might want to snoop around on LinkedIn. Apparently, some members of the team have profiles that do not really hide what they’re doing. Or maybe that’s a smokescreen in itself. I wonder if they’re hiring?

[Image via brookings]