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NSA Hacked, Cyber Weapons Stolen By Hackers

Monday, June 19th, 2017

A group of hackers calling themselves “The Shadow Brokers” claim to have carried out the ultimate hack! The group not only managed to infiltrate a group closely linked to NSA, it even managed to steal code of several cyber weapons that were earlier used to launch stealth attacks against other governments and organizations. The target of the hack was reportedly the mysterious “Equation Group” which was revealed to be working for the NSA by the security firm Kapersky last year. If the claims made by the Shadow Brokers group are indeed true then it would represent an unprecedented level of breach in the history of NSA.

The news came to light when the hackers bragged about their exploits on Tumblr and even posted small bits of stolen code on GitHub. They even boasted that they have stolen cyber weapons from the same group which was behind the creation of sophisticated malwares and spywares such as Stuxnet, Duqu and Flame. The group even posted snapshots which seemed to reveal several other attack vectors created by the Equation Group. Although both the Tumblr and GitHub pages were taken down, it is believed that the code was downloaded by thousands of people.

Apart from posting the details about the theft, the group members also posted a note about a bitcoin auction which promises to sell a second set of stolen code to the highest bidder. The group even promised to release a big cache of stolen data in an unencrypted format for an eye-popping sum of one million bitcoins (more than half a billion dollars). The auction page even encouraged the “wealthy elites” of the world to bid for the stolen code citing the enormous geo-political risks associated with the deployment of such sophisticated cyber weapons.

The code released by Shadow Brokers includes exploits targeting equipment manufactured by Cisco, Juniper, Topsec and Fortigate. After analyzing the code, security experts came to the conclusion that it did not affect the latest equipment sold by these vendors. Nevertheless, Juniper has acknowledged that the malware code was found to affect some of its firewalls. The company also said that it was examining the extent of the leak but gave no assurances regarding when the loopholes exposed by the hackers would be fixed.

While it is not yet clear who is behind the theft of cyber weapons created by the “Equation Group”, speculations are rife that Russian hackers were behind the hack. However, it is equally possible that the leak was the job of an insider. Most security experts seemed to agree that the code was genuine and it did belong to the Equation Group. They pointed to the naming terminology (which matches with the code released by Edward Snowden in the past) as well as the sheer size of the code files released by the group (over 300 MB) to support this hypothesis. While the NSA has not officially acknowledged the authenticity of the code, the incident is sure to have far reaching consequences in the world of online security and even espionage.

June 19, 2017

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