European police investigating drug smugglers recently uncovered an elaborate computer spying effort using a lot of specialized hardware, in addition to the usual malware (software hackers hide on someone else’s computer) in order to obtain cargo information at the Port of Amsterdam. This port handles millions of shipping containers a year and having access to accurate and up-to-date data on all containers gave smugglers opportunities to sneak their drugs in without getting caught. The specialized hardware, which gave criminals a nearly undetectable wireless access to the port computer network, was very similar to what was used in two September attacks against British banks.
Secretly placing wireless devices in computer equipment has been increasingly common as improved technology allowed such devices to get smaller and more powerful. Israel and the U.S. are believed to have used such devices for intelligence operations against Arab countries and Iran. Many other intel agencies have access to this tech and are believed to be using it. The United States is the largest target for this sort of thing and major corporations and governments spend a lot of money trying to protect themselves. It was defenses like this that enabled the British banks and the Port of Antwerp to be caught. Other uses of this approach by criminals and spies are believed to have succeeded but the victims often succeed in keeping details from going public.