Shadow Brokers Threaten To Reveal Identity Of Ex-NSA Hacker

Group responsible for leaking NSA exploits resurfaces

The mysterious Shadow Brokers hacking group threatened Wednesday to reveal the identity of an alleged former NSA hacker.

In a message posted online, the group – responsible for leaking the NSA exploits which powered the WannaCry and so-called Petya ransomware outbreaks – accused the alleged hacker in broken English of “writing ugly tweet to theshadowbrokers” and of belonging to Equation Group, a highly sophisticated team suspected of being NSA.

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NSA Software Behind Latest Global Ransomware Attack

“It’s like WannaCry all over again,” said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer with Helsinki’s cybersecurity firm F-Secure, when discussing today’s latest outbreak of the WannaCry-like ransomeware attack, which as we reported earlier started in Ukraine, and has since spread to corporate systems across the world, affecting Russian state oil giant Rosneft, the international shipping and energy conglomerate Maersk, and the UK public relations company WPP, before jumping across the Atlantic and going global, by infecting the US-based division of global pharma giant Merck, which this morning confirmed it has been hit by the “Petya” attack.

“We confirm our company’s computer network was compromised today as part of global hack,” Merck said in a statement on Tuesday. “Other organizations have also been affected. We are investigating the matter and will provide additional information as we learn more.”

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The NSA Reportedly Believes North Korea Was Responsible For WannaCry Ransomware Attacks

North Korea increasingly appears to have been behind the ransomware attack that infected hundreds of thousands of computers last month and shut down hospitals, businesses, and other systems in the process.

The Washington Post is now reporting that the US National Security Agency believes with “moderate confidence” that the ransomware, called WannaCry, came from hackers sponsored by North Korea’s spy agency. The report isn’t public, but the Post says the assessment has been distributed within the agency.

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Hackers Working On A Global ‘ExplodingCan’ Cyber Attack

  • The hack targets computers worldwide running on Microsoft Windows 2003
  • It exploits a known flaw in the servers, triggering a buffer overflow
  • This allows hackers to remotely access the computer, and plant ransomware

Experts have warned that a devastating global cyber attack is imminent.

The hack, called ‘ExplodingCan’, targets computers running on Microsoft Windows 2003, which means that it could be used to attack 375,000 computers worldwide.

This puts it in the same risk category as last month’s WannaCry ransomware attack which caused mayhem around the world, crippling vital servers such as those used by the NHS.

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Ransomware And The NSA

Should the government still be stockpiling software flaws?

The effects of this month’s global ransomware attack seem to be fading, fortunately. But a crucial question the incident raised is only getting more urgent. When it comes to online security, the U.S. government’s priorities — preventing terrorism and protecting cyberspace — are in permanent tension. Is there a way to resolve it?

The National Security Agency routinely seeks out flaws in common software and builds tools, known as exploits, to take advantage of them. Doing so is an essential part of the agency’s mission of spying on terrorists and foreign adversaries, yet it comes with grave risks.

The latest attack — still evolving — is an example. Researchers say it takes advantage of a stolen NSA tool to exploit a flaw in some versions of Windows. Microsoft Corp. has suggested that the NSA knew of the flaw for some time, yet didn’t disclose it until the theft.

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WannaCry Ransomware Attack Linked To China, Not Russia Or North Korea

A few weeks ago, in what was described as one of the “worst-ever recorded attacks of its kind,” the WannaCry ransomware virus spread the globe at an alarming rate, seizing control of private networks and demanding bitcoin payments to relinquish that control.  As we pointed out then, and not terribly surprisingly, those pesky “Russian hackers,” the same ones that lay relatively dormant for years then suddenly emerged from hibernation in 2016 to hack the DNC, John Podesta and the entire 2016 U.S. presidential election, were initially considered to be the most likely culprits for the WannaCry virus.

Finally, there is the question who is behind this coordinated global attack. Not surprisingly, Russia has been named. There is a high-probability that Russian-language cyber-criminals were behind the attack, said Aleks Gostev, chief cybersecurity expert for Kaspersky Labs. “Ransomware is traditionally their topic,” he said cited by Bloomberg. “The geography of attacks that hit post-Soviet Union most also suggests that.”

But, while blaming the Russians was undoubtedly the most convenient solution for advancing the mainstream media’s “Russian hacking” narrative, like much of what has been reported over the past 6 months, it may have not been grounded in reality and/or supported by facts.  As the BBC reports today, new analysis from Flashpoint suggests that the WannaCry virus may have instead emerged from China.

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Ex-Obama Cyber Czar Defends Government Rules For Hacking Tools

Former President Obama’s cyber czar is defending rules governing the hoarding of hacking techniques following the global ransomware attack — in which it’s possible an NSA cyber tool was used against hospitals and governments.

Michael Daniel, a top adviser to Obama on cybersecurity from mid-2012 to the end of the Obama administration, said U.S. intelligence agencies have to arm themselves for a cyber war, and that critics who argue for a disarmament are not living in a realistic world.

He also argued the rules ultimately make the U.S. safer.

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