We know that the NSA has been ramping up its efforts to collect data from computers since 911, but as more information from Edward Snowden's cache of lifted NSA documents are made available it is becoming evident that the intelligence agency has already put the necessary tools in place to compromise or hack computers on a grander scale than anyone could have imagined. New information leaked by journalist Glen Greenwald from Edward Snowden's NSA document cache in this Intercept story reveals that the NSA has spent years creating a system that infects computer systems with malware and makes the entire process of collecting information nearly automated.
That system is codenamed "Turbine," and it launched in 2010. Turbine supposedly automates the process of setting up implants in computer systems and simplifies fetching data. All NSA agents using the system need to do is know what information they want, according to the report.
A grid of sensors codenamed "Turmoil" automatically spots "extracted info" and relays it to the NSA. These two systems working together allow the agency to gather information from "potentially millions" of PCs, instead of focusing on the high-priority targets.
The system is pretty complex, and most likely a violation of both U.S. and international laws. You can read about it in great detail here.
The NSA would not publicly comment on this story, short of saying that the President's recent directive to only collect information on high value targets is being followed by the agency.