Fearing Shadow Brokers leak, NSA reported critical flaw to Microsoft

Alicia Guzman
May 20, 2017

Shadow Brokers, the group that leaked parts of U.S. national security agency's (NSA) cyber weapons stockpile which formed the basis of the recent WannaCry ransomware, said it would release hacking tools every month to those willing to pay for it.

In a post on their blog, the hackers announced that they would be launching a monthly data dump service, comparing it to a "wine of the month club" for hackers.

This data dump could include exploits and tools for browsers, handsets and routers; new exploits for Windows 10; "compromised network data from more Swift providers and central banks"; and network data stolen from Russian, Chinese, Iranian or North Korean missile/nuclear programs.

In December, Shadow Brokers cancelled its auction and offered to sell the exploits.

"Financial spying by the NSA is probably the most important and least liberty-infringing bulk-style program possible - and I doubt anyone outside the targeted countries would have a problem with the NSA spying on foreign WMD and missile programs", Weaver wrote.

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A similar situation happened with Oracle, the group claims, but it didn't list the timeline of Oracle patching a "huge number of vulnerabilities" after purportedly being given a heads-up by the NSA about the Shadow Brokers-held exploits.

That exploit is ETERNALBLUE, a supposed hacking tool developed by the Equation Group, a codenamed usually given to NSA cyber-operations.

Previously, the group had merely sought to sell its hacking tools to the highest bidder. It is believed that hacking tools that belong to the NSA were leaked online and were used to build into WannaCry ransomware, also known as WannaCrypt, which has ensnared up to 300,000 computers in more than 150 countries.

The Shadow Brokers' theft and subsequent leaks are one of the worst, if not the worst, crisis to hit the NSA.

But now, the monthly subscription model might mean the bugs will find their way into the hands of more people, said Mr Hall.

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The group also promised to include compromised financial data from the SWIFT global payment order system, used by banks to transfer trillions of dollars each day, as well as confidential data from several central banks.

That attempt was also doomed, and after failing to secure buyers for the remainder of the tools they teased, the group dumped online the August 2016 password-protected archive last month in April.

"Repeatedly, exploits in the hands of governments have leaked into the public domain and caused widespread damage." - said Microsoft's Brad Smith - "An equivalent scenario with conventional weapons would be the US military having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".

The shadowy hacking group claimed that Microsoft released its vulnerability patch in March while also alleging that the Equation Group was paying United States tech companies not to patch vulnerabilities.

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Other reports by Info About Network

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