The Daily Beast: Mystery Hackers Blow Up Secret NSA Hacking Tools in ‘Final F–k You’

Mystery Hackers Blow Up Secret NSA Hacking Tools in ‘Final F–k You’ – The Daily Beast – The Shadow Brokers emerged in August with the announcement that they’d stolen the hacking tools used by a sophisticated computer-intrusion operation known as the Equation Group, and were putting them up for sale to the highest bidder. It was a remarkable claim, because the Equation Group is generally understood to be part of the NSA’s elite Tailored Access Operations program and is virtually never detected, much less penetrated. The Equation Group was, in a sense, the rough equivalent to the Russian “Cozy Bear” crew, now blamed for the DNC hacks. Except the American hackers operated for at least 14 years as virtual ghosts, until 2015 when the Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs gathered enough evidence to prove that they exist. It soon emerged that the Shadow Brokers really had the goods. Released along with the announcement was a huge cache of specialized malware, including dozens of backdoor programs and 10 exploits, two of them targeting previously unknown security holes in Cisco routers—a basic building block of the internet. While Cisco and other companies scrambled for a fix, security experts pored over the Shadow Brokers tranche like it was the Rosetta Stone. “It was the first time, as threat-intelligence professionals, that we’ve had access to what appears to be a relatively complete toolkit of a nation-state attacker,” says Jake Williams, founder of Rendition Infosec. “It was excitement in some circles, dismay in other circles, and panic and a rush to patch if you’re running vulnerable hardware.”

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