Shadow Brokers leak trove of NSA hacking tools

The mysterious Shadow Brokers group has have released a trove of alleged NSA hacking tools including Windows zero-day exploits and tools designed to hack into the global SWIFT banking system.

Shutterstock image (by fotogestoeber): virus infection spreading out in a network.
 

The Shadow Brokers are back with another batch of hacking tools allegedly from the National Security Agency that includes Microsoft zero-day exploits and backdoors into SWIFT banking system service bureaus.

The April 14 "Lost in Translation" leak implies that the NSA's elite Equation Group hacking unit had extensive zero-day exploits and other tools to infiltrate Windows systems and that the agency was inside banking systems, particularly in the Middle East.

In blog posts and on Twitter, the security community seemed blown away at the reach and power of the tools released by the Shadow Brokers.

"This may well be the most damaging dump against the NSA to date, and it is without question the most damaging post-Snowden release," computer security researcher Nicholas Weaver wrote on the Lawfare blog.

The tools appear legitimate, he said, and at least one of the zero-day exploits in the release still works against Windows Server 2013.

Since the release, Twitter has been ablaze with hackers, analysts and security experts reacting in shock to the number and impact of the tools released, one of which has been referred to as "God Mode" on certain Windows systems.

"This isn't a data dump, this is a damn Microsoft apocalypse," tweeted security expert @hackerfantastic.

"We are reviewing the report and will take the necessary actions to protect our customers," a Microsoft spokesperson told FCW by email.

That may be true as far as Microsoft products still under support, noted hacker Matt Suiche noted in a blog post. But some of the exploits target Windows XP, which has been out of support since 2014, and Windows Vista, which went out of support on April 11.

"This means that security vulnerabilities found on those systems will never be corrected," Suiche wrote.

A spokesperson for the SWIFT banking system told FCW in a statement that SWIFT was aware of reports that two third-party service bureaus might have been accessed, but SWIFT itself was not compromised.

EastNets, one of the two services bureaus exposed in the leak and allegedly infiltrated by the NSA, released a statement denying it had been hacked.

"The EastNets Service Bureau runs on a separate secure network that cannot be accessed over the public networks," stated the release. "The photos shown on twitter, claiming compromised information, is about pages that are outdated and obsolete, generated on a low-level internal server that is retired since 2013."

Previous releases by the Shadow Brokers have contained tools and exploits that analysts have stated were years old and for which many companies had issued patches and updates. However, with many people still running older versions of Windows or using outdated hardware, vulnerable targets remain.

At the same time, experts have also stated that a number of the tools leaked by the Shadow Brokers were "irreplaceable" and their exposure significantly harmed the NSA's hacking capabilities. 

Because some of the files in the leak appear to be classified, intelligence community personnel are legally barred from accessing them to analyze and verify. The NSA did not respond to a request for comment on the latest leak.

The leak adds to the woes of the intelligence community, which has been contending with an ongoing release of alleged CIA hacking tools by WikiLeaks.

The Shadow Brokers came on the scene in the summer of 2016 when they announced they had a trove of stolen NSA tools that they then put up for auction. There have been various theories as to who they are and whether they are acting on behalf of a nation state, but so far their identity remains a mystery.

Since their emergence, they appear to have had little to no success selling their pilfered tools and instead have begun to release the actual tools they had claimed to be trying to auction off.

"Is being too bad nobody deciding to be paying theshadowbrokers for just to shutup and going away," the group stated in a blog post announcing the new release, which is written in their characteristic broken English.

"TheShadowBrokers rather being getting drunk with McAfee on desert island with hot babes. Maybe if all suviving WWIII theshadowbrokers be seeing you next week. Who knows what we having next time?"

The fact that Shadow Brokers are now giving away their tools puzzles experts.

"These are tremendously valuable tools to just burn that way, so it does make one wonder (and worry): what exactly is the intended payoff here?" Weaver wrote.

 

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.