Home Security Windows users at risk as Shadow Brokers dumps NSA exploits

Windows users at risk as Shadow Brokers dumps NSA exploits

The hacker group known as Shadow Brokers has released a number of what it says are NSA exploits for Windows systems and details of what it says are NSA intrusions into the SWIFT system which is used by banks.

The files were dumped on Good Friday which makes it doubly difficult for systems administrators as many of the exploits can be used against Windows systems apart from Windows 10. Last week, Shadow Brokers released a password for a cache of encrypted files, again related to the NSA.

It means that an overwhelming number of Windows systems can be attacked using these exploits as Windows 10 has little more than a quarter of market share of Windows versions globally.

Shadow Brokers had given an indication more than three months ago that it would be dumping these exploits, listing them for sale at the time and including version numbers.

However, in the interim, no details of the exploits appear to have been provided to Microsoft by the NSA. A little while ago, Sam Biddle, a reporter for the Intercept, tweeted, "Wow: Microsoft just told me NO ONE from NSA (or anywhere in the government) has contacted them yet re: Shadow Brokers."

And Facebook's chief security officer Alex Stamos tweeted: "Whatever you think of the IC (intelligence community) having 0-day, this situation pretty clearly demonstrates that the USG (US government) vulnerability equities process is broken."

According to Matt Suiche, head of the UAE-based cyber security start-up Comae Technologies, the latest Shadow Brokers dump contains evidence of intrusion into the SWIFT service bureau, a large number of exploits and re-usable tools to exploit Windows, and many documents labelled TOPSECRET plus logs and spreadsheets.

The SWIFT material has details on the largest SWIFT service network in the Middle East, which is run by an outfit known as Eastnets. It appears that the NSA uncovered this information in its search for terrorist financing.

Administrator account details for many of the Eastnet operations were also in the dump.

The following working exploits for Windows were released:

ETERNALROMANCE — Remote privilege escalation (SYSTEM) exploit (Windows XP to Windows 2008 over TCP port 445).

ETERNALCHAMPION, ETERNALSYSTEM — Remote exploit up to Windows 8 and 2012.

ETERNALBLUE is Remote Exploit via SMB & NBT (Windows XP to Windows 2012).

EXPLODINGCAN — Remote IIS 6.0 exploit for Windows 2003.

EWORKFRENZY — Lotus Domino 6.5.4 and 7.0.2 exploit.

ETERNALSYNERGY — Windows 8 and Windows Server 2012.

FUZZBUNCH — Exploit Framework (Similar to Metasploit) for the above exploits.

Suiche advised Windows users who had versions of Windows equal or below Windows Vista that they were doomed "because those version of Windows aren’t supported anymore. If you are using Windows 7 and above, you can disable SMB as mentioned on the MSDN (Microsoft Developer Network) until Microsoft issues official patches."

He said he had tried to exploit Windows 10 systems but these exploits had failed because, "although the security bugs may still be present, it is considerably harder to exploits bugs on Windows 10 than it is on Windows 7".


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.