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Shadow Brokers group makes a collection of NSA hacking tools

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April 10, 2017

We just learned today that the Shadow Brokers Group has made available to the internet community a collection of NSA hacking tools and exploits that people can use easily.

The Shadow Brokers Group is an unknown computer threat team of actors responsible for several leaks of exploits and security vulnerabilities targeting enterprise firewalls, anti-virus products and Microsoft products.

The obscure team is also tied to the Equation Group threat actor and the NSA's Tailored Access Operations.

The group initially released a password for their archive, making it available to all. They unsuccessfully attempted to auction off the trove in 2016, but it was a major failure.

In a statement, Shadow Brokers said it was making the 2013 vintage hacking tools available as a protest against President Trump abandoning his base by bombing Syria in the wake of a chemical weapons attack on civilians last Thursday.

To be sure, Shadow Brokers made its name experimenting on specific exploits and security vulnerabilities sourced from the Equation Group. Documents leaked by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden provide persuasive evidence that hacking tools previously leaked by the Shadow Brokers included malware and exploits that began life at the signals intelligence agency.

Shadow Brokers asserted that it was quitting in January and released no less than 58 Windows tools by way of a parting gift.

The latest security leak includes a list of NSA targets alongside details of the implants deployed against them. Some of these targets involve systems of United States allies, in Western Europe and elsewhere, such as universities.

That is very consistent with the NSA's usual practice of hacking anything and everything it can get its hands on, pre or post Edward Snowden.

More damagingly, the security leak implies that the U.S. government concealed knowledge of a critical weakness in Linux systems, and that is troublesome, considering the hundreds of thousands of web servers all running Linux.

To be sure, most of the security exploits are older so it may be that the Shadow Brokers are either holding back on releasing the good stuff or never had them in the first place. It's difficult to tell at this point.

However, Snowden commented last year-- "Quick review of the #ShadowBrokers leak of Top Secret NSA tools reveals it's nowhere near the full library, but there's still so much here that the NSA should be able to instantly identify where this set came from and how they lost it. If they can't, it's a real scandal."

Whatever the outcome is, it will be interesting to see where all of this takes us. One thing is for sure: we will most likely hear and read a lot more about these topics in the coming months. What Edward Snowden and the likes of Wikileak's Assange have leaked to the internet in the last few years will come back to bite us in the rear sooner rather than later.

Source: The Shadow Brokers Group.

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