The NSA’s elite teams of hackers have for years made it their mission to silently compromise computer systems around the globe. Now one group of anonymous hackers claims to have executed a counter-hack with none of the same discretion: They’ve brazenly announced the theft of a collection of files they say belonged to an NSA-linked spy group. And they’re auctioning those files off to the highest bidder.
On Monday an anonymous group calling itself the Shadow Brokers posted a page to Tumblr claiming to have breached computer systems used by the Equation Group, a team of highly sophisticated cyberspies that the security firm Kaspersky found last year was hacking targets around the world and has been tied to the NSA based in part on evidence from the leaks of Edward Snowden. The Shadow Brokers released a sample of the stolen data, as well as another encrypted file whose decryption key they’re offering for sale in a bitcoin auction.
“How much you pay for enemies cyber weapons?” reads a message on the site. “We hack Equation Group. We find many many Equation Group cyber weapons. You see pictures. We give you some Equation Group files free…But not all, we are auction the best files.” The group brags lower on the page that the unreleased code for sale is “better than Stuxnet,” the NSA’s notorious malware targeting Iranian nuclear facilities that was discovered in 2010.
Despite the group’s unverified, over-the-top claims and comically broken English, researchers who downloaded the sample posted by the group say it does include intriguing data, such as 300 megabytes of code that match up with actual exploits used by the NSA. “It looks very much as if the NSA attacked someone, and that someone managed to source the origin of the attacks, …