An anonymous group of hackers known as “The Shadow Brokers” recently posted online the “cyber weapons” NSA hackers reportedly used to hack into other governments’ servers. The group demands 1 million bitcoins or approximately 560 million US dollars to release more documents.
In a manifesto published on Pastebin and Github, the hackers asked “government sponsors of cyber warfare” to say how much will they be willing to pay for their enemies’ cyber weapons. The group disclosed that they have seized the tools that the NSA-linked hacking group Equation Group has used in the state-sponsored attacks.
Equation Group was praised by the Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab for being one of the most advanced teams in their field. Kaspersky researchers hinted that the group may have ties to the U.S. spy agency, NSA, as many leaked documents during the Edward Snowden scandal pointed that the group has worked for the agency under various codenames.
The NSA group reportedly targeted the same governments as the hackers that designed Stuxnet, a cyber weapon believed to be employed by the US and Israel to kill off Iran’s nuclear program.
The Shadow Brokers now say that they have copies of the cyber tools the NSA’s group has used in some of its attacks. The anonymous hackers unveiled the dumped files Aug. 13 and tweeted a link to the online manifesto to several news outlets.
The stolen files contains malicious codes that can target routers and firewalls and take over servers, and installation scripts. The names of some of the cyber tools feature in Snowden’s leaked documents including “epicbanana” and “bananaglee.”
It is currently not clear whether the files are genuine or not, but some IT specialists believe that they are. One experts said that the hackers have put a huge amount of effort in the operation for it to be just a hoax.
On a first look, security experts agreed that the files look like the cyber weapons a state-sponsored group of hackers would use in attacks against other states’ communications infrastructure.
A cyber security expert who is specialized in Western intelligence agencies’ operations thinks that the files might be as well hacked from one of the NSA’s servers. But the expert acknowledged that more research needs to be conducted before drawing a final conclusion.
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