Shadow Broker, a hacking group has put the NSA’s prized hacking tools for auction.
In an incident of geopolitical significance a group of hackers who calls themselves as the Shadow Broker had put a number of stolen utilities for sale. The tools belonged to the Equation Group, the NSA’s hacking outfit.
Edward Snowden had earlier speculated that the move was yet another salvo in the on-going digital cold war between Russia and the United States.
In this nature of business, there can never be 100% certainty as to whether the tools did actually belong to the NSA. However, Snowden has now released documentation to show that the tools are in fact very real and are exactly what the Shadow Brokers say they are.
Snowden has released a classified Top Secret agency manual which has been specifically crafted for implanting malware. According to the manual, NSA agents have been instructed to track the deployment of their malwares using “ace02468bdf13579” as the character string.
This string appears in 14 places throughout the code of the SecondDate program, leaked by Shadow Broker.
SecondDate is a hacking program that can be used to monitor network activity and infiltrate computer networks using an exploit for vulnerable routers. The exploit allows the malware to run “man in the middle attacks” against targeted computers.
The man-in-the-middle attack works against encrypted wireless signals as well.
The issue here isn’t that this tool is now publicly available, which essentially puts many vulnerable routers at risk. The real danger here is that the NSA’s computer systems were defiled, broken and thrashed, its prized tools stolen without anyone being caught.
This only goes to point that whoever did this has considerable state support. Could be the Russians, or it could also be the Chinese. More importantly, it also means that they have exploits which the United States is not aware of / does not have means to defend against.
Naturally, the geopolitical and diplomatic implications are massive. As stated earlier by Snowden, the entire episode reeks of state-sponsorship hacking.
Given the on-going election fever in the U.S and the DNC leaks, the timing and more importantly the target – NSA, is telling.