Shadow Brokers' Leak of NSA's Costly Hacking Tools is 'Big Concern' for US Intel

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Cybercrime - Sputnik International
The Shadow Brokers' data dump about NSA hacking is a damaging blow to the US intelligence service because it reveals the tools used by its elite Equation Group squad, Matthew Hickey, Co-Founder and Director of Hacker House, told Radio Sputnik.

On Monday a group of hackers called the Shadow Brokers released a list of servers which were purportedly hacked by the NSA's elite Equation Group hacking squad.

The data dump contains some 300 folders of files, all corresponding to different domains and IP addresses. 

According to an analysis by security consultant Hacker Fantastic, the dump contains 306 domains and 352 IP addresses relating to 49 countries in total, including China, India and Russia.

Matthew Hickey, Co-Founder and Director of Hacker House, told Radio Sputnik that the most damaging consequence of the leak for the NSA is the disclosure of its hacking techniques.

"What is most damaging in this leak, is that it contains information on the software tools used to conduct those attacks, which have got names such as Dewdrop, Incision, Jackladder and Stoicsurgeon are used to attack various unique servers," Hickey explained.

"The Shadow Broker group claims to have those tools, so that could be a valuable resource which has been lost by the NSA. The tools themselves would have been expensive and very time-consuming to develop, and it would certainly be a very big concern for them if they became available in the wild."

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The leak appears to be an attempt by the Shadow Brokers to generate interest around the hacking tools used by NSA, and potentially make money from the information.

"Certainly, their previous leak contained tools of a similar quality, so it looks like there could well be more tools made available by them but as yet they haven't released the whole source code, just the information on the names of the tools and the types of systems they impact on," Hickey said.

With the right tools, it is possible for non-state actors to also carry out cyber-attacks. While it doesn't take a high level of sophistication to hide the source of an attack, it does take more skill to keep it hidden. False flags such as language or geography are commonly used to hide the source of their attacks, the security expert explained.

Some US politicians have been eager to blame Russian hackers for hacking into US political organizations, including the Democratic National Committee, during the ongoing presidential campaign there.

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However, they have been unable to produce any evidence to back up their claims, and Hickey said that the correct attribution of hacking is very difficult.

"Attribution in cyber-security is incredibly complex, it can be very hard to find accurate, 110 percent proof that a particular person, group or even country is behind a specific attack."

"As cyber-attacks become more widespread and complex, the international community must come together and collaborate with each other so that we can prevent cyber-attacks that impact on all of us globally," Hickey said.

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