Security Market Segment LS
Friday, 19 August 2016 23:46

Stolen hacking tools came from NSA: report Featured


Hacking tools which were put up for sale by a group known as Shadow Brokers earlier this week have been confirmed as being authentic NSA software by The Intercept news website, which says its claim was backed by documents it had received from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The website is run by Glenn Greenwald, a lawyer and journalist, who wrote the initial story revealed by Snowden, that the NSA was conducting blanket surveillance of the US population.

In its detailed account, the website said the tools, which were pillaged from the Equation Group, an outfit which has for long been suspected to have links to the NSA, were part of an arsenal used to infect computers around the world.

It said that while debate still continued around how these tools leaked, there was absolutely no doubt that they bore the NSA's virtual fingerprints and their origin was crystal clear.

The evidence for this, The Intercept said, came from a top secret NSA manual, provided to it by Snowden, which provided guidelines for implanting malware.

The manual instructed NSA operators to keep track of a certain malware program using a 16-character string, "ace02468bdf13579"; the same string appeared in code leaked by Shadow Brokers and was associated with the same program, SECONDDATE.

This program is used to intercept Web requests and redirect browsers to an NSA server. Its existence was first reported by The Intercept in 2014. The malware server has been described in previous documents leaked by Snowden.

There have been fallouts for others from the Shadow Brokers' dump. The networking giant Cisco was forced to act on two remote exploits on Wednesday, both of which were part of the dump by Shadow Brokers which is claimed to have Russian backing.

The hack of the Equation Group has been linked to the hacking and leaks of material from the US Democrat party.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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