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Group linked to NSA spy leaks threatens sale of new tech secrets

20 May, 2017, 08:37 | Author: Nadine Todd

After that, it tried to sell a dump of zero-day exploits for 1 million bitcoin. And, since Friday, the agency has watched as malicious software based on its creations spread across the world, shutting down hospitals, disrupting rail traffic and spurring frustration and chaos in some 150 countries. It also alleges that Microsoft Corp.is colluding with The Equation Group - "the Microsoft is being BFF with the equation group" - the NSA's hacking group, and that the NSA has spies inside of Microsoft and other top us technology companies. "Now they're suddenly sitting ducks who have their secrets stolen and used around the world".

The NSA did not respond to requests for comment. In a way, this can be marked as good news and bad news at the same time. NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and others confirmed the leak was authentic. Still, he said, "Microsoft needs to admit that the 20th century is over, it's a much more hostile environment, and the hobbling NSA won't make us any safer".

He said the loss of the so-called malware, and the damage it has caused, "poses a very serious threat to the future of the agency".

So far experts are still trying to figure out the hackers or group responsible for this. Early Tuesday, a post purportedly from the Shadow Brokers announced that it was starting a sort of hack-of-the-month club. Each month you pay a membership fee, then members only get a data dump. "What members doing with data after is up to members".

The mocking tone - the post's title, "OH LORDY!" But I may have been wrong on one significant thing: I thought the Windows tools were the most damaging the Shadow Brokers have to offer.

The Shadow Brokers - a group that claimed last Saturday (May 13) that they have stolen hacking tools from the National Security Agency (NSA) - said in a blog post that it would set up a "monthly subscription model" for security exploits.

In the Tuesday letter, they said they weren't "interested in stealing grandmothers' retirement money", but wanted to send a message to the Equation Group, a hacking group linked to the NSA. A few samples were listed to encourage bids.

"Out of that batch, it is probably a high-water mark", Manky said.

Alternately, the Shadow Brokers appears to be giving the NSA or any other organization that has leaked cyber warfare kits to buy back the whole lot and avoid the release of the tools.

The last scenario - an insider leak from among the 35,000 NSA employees and thousands more contractors - is now in the lead, officials say. A veteran contractor, Martin had access to classified information as part of his work in the intelligence-gathering division of the NSA named Tailored Access Operations. Another NSA employee was also arrested in 2015, but no information has been released about the individual. It is not known who is behind the Shadow Brokers. Microsoft had actually made a patch for this WannaCry vulnerability in March 2017 and rolled it to users but not many installed it.

Using another exploit, called EternalBlue, attackers began targeting vulnerable machines with a self-replicating software "worm" that locked files and posted a ransom demand. The only release which didn't include massive pointers enabling the NSA to find the particular source is the Windows exploits.

What subscribers will do with these exploits and data will be up to them, the group said.

Read the full New York Times report here.

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