Sophisticated NSA hacking tools revealed
A group of hackers, calling itself ‘Shadow Brokers’, has revealed software code of highly sophisticated cyberattack tools belonging to the other hacking group called ‘Equation Group’, believed to be an elite hacking group of the NSA. Cisco, Fortinet and other companies whose unknown vulnerabilities were identified in the disclosed tools, confirmed they have had no previous information about these vulnerabilities – known as ‘0-days’; this signals that a very resourced and skillful group must have discovered them and built them in the exploits likely used by the NSA to hack into others’ systems. The revealed tools, originating from 2013, are certainly not the most sophisticated weapons that the NSA might have today, but could have been used to penetrate into what were believed to be highly secure IT systems around the globe. The leak fuels the concerns that the NSA have not been reporting the identified ‘0-day’ vulnerabilities to the vendors in order to increase the overall global security, but have instead used them for advancing their cyber-weapons. The release of the code may give temporary advantage to many attackers and criminals, now able to use them before the companies manage to patch the identified vulnerabilities in their systems. The disclosed code will also enable security experts to look for “fingerprints” of the NSA in various hacking operations in the previous decade, which could possibly lead to further embarrassing discoveries – especially in case the hacks were also targeting US allies, according to tweets by Snowden. Some experts, including Snowden, believe that the hack of the NSA was conducted by the Russian hackers, though there is no evidence except the overall cybersecurity context including the recent hack of the Democratic National Committee; other sources, however, believe the disclosure of the cyber-tools could have been a result of an another insider within the NSA.