Last Saturday, complicated computer coding meant to hack into computers was made accessible to the public after anonymous hackers dubbed “The Shadow Brokers” leaked it to the public.
The Shadow Brokers also said they would put up an auction involving “cyber weapons”. This is like the software version of selling stolen military equipment.
According to the hacking group, the programs were developed by a wing of the NSA called the Equation Group”. The Equation Group is also affiliated with intelligence wings from four other allies including Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and the UK. The five nations all form what is known as “The Five Eyes”.
The hack has left international cyber safety professionals worried by the fact that powerful hacking tools are now at the disposal of criminal hackers. Matt Suiche, who is a computer researcher stated; ‘This does look like something the NSA could use. It looks like some kind of well-organised toolkit, meaning it is ready to be deployed for any spying purpose against whatever target.”
“This is a very dangerous situation,” Justin Cappos said, who is a professor at New York University. “People would want to carry out cyber-attacks but they just didn’t have the know-how. Now they have all the tools in their possession and will do anything.”
The first message from the hacking group was posted on the well-known coding website, Github. The post started with: “Attention all those who support, sponsor and benefits from state cyber warfare.”
Then what followed were the serious parts: “How much will you pay for the cyber tools of enemies?” We present to you the weapons of Equation Group for free. Enjoy!!! You can breach a lot of systems with them.”
Many professionals world-wide have been seriously studying the leaked files to ascertain their authenticity.
“This seems to be real. It is a framework meant to lay siege on routers and firewalls,” Nicholas Weaver said, who is a researcher at the International Computer Science Institute. “It has been concluded that the tools were indeed stolen directly from the NSA or from an affiliate of 5EYES who had access to the software.”
Upon examination of the code, Weaver has concluded that it was stolen in 013 from the NSA. There have been experiments that have proved the tools to match what the whistle-blower Edward Snowden described.”