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Did The Shadow Brokers really hack into NSA?

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A hackers group named “The Shadow Brokers” has claimed to offer NSA linked Cyber weapons in exchange for Bitcoins. The hackers are claiming to have stolen an attack code from a super sophisticated espionage group known as “The Equation Group” which is widely believed to be associated with National Security Agency. In 2015, a report published by Kaspersky Labs had identified “The Equation Group” for the first time and linked it to the National Security Agency. The same report also said held The Equation Group responsible for the infamous malwares “Stuxnet” and “Flame”.

The Shadow Brokers group is now conducting an online auction of the exploit. However there are certain unique rules of the auction which raise a lot of questions. The rules are:

  • The highest bidder wins the auction and The Shadow Brokers keep the money.
  • All losing bids are forfeited and The Shadow Brokers keep the money.
  • If the total bids reach BTC1,000,000, everyone gets all the cyberweapons for free and The Shadow Brokers keep the money.
  • The auction ends when Shadow Brokers feel like it and The Shadow Brokers keep the money.
  • Nobody knows about the items on sale. People have to just “trust” them.

The exploit has not been officially verified yet but the hackers have offered few files for free on the code sharing site Github to legitimize their claim. As per experts who have gone through these files, they look amazingly authentic. The stolen exploit code is allegedly designed to target firewalls and equipment produced by Juniper Networks, Cisco, Fortinet and Topsec (A Chinese company).

But some experts have raised valid questions regarding the hack. As per the ex-NSA insiders, the claim of a hack seems to be untrue because the NSA hackers don’t keep their tools online so as to completely erase the probability of any kind of pilferage. It more likely looks like to be a classic spy operation involving human intelligence in which an NSA employee or a member of the equation group downloaded the weapons on a USB stick and handed over to the Shadow Brokers.

Secondly, the behaviour of the group is quite strange. Mostly, what happens with an exploit is that either it is exposed or sold off quietly without attracting any kind of attention. However, the people at Shadow Brokers have attracted world attention by publicly glorifying their exploit. It looks more like publicity efforts instead of a call to auction. The statement of Edward Snowden into the scene has raised more eyebrows. He said “Russia might have leaked alleged NSA cyberweapons as a ‘warning’”. The files released by the group date back to 2013 and are in sync with the NSA programs namely “BANANAGLEE,” “EPICBANANA,” and “JETPLOW” leaked by the whistle blower Edward Snowden. This further confirms the suspicion that it’s more likely a case of espionage carried out by human intelligence instead of hacking. Now even Julian Assange has jumped into the issue which leaves no doubt about the political dimension this issue carries.


We want make sure Wealthy Elite recognizes the danger cyber weapons, this message, our auction, poses to their wealth and control. Let us spell out for Elites. Your wealth and control depends on electronic data. You see what “Equation Group” can do. You see what cryptolockers and stuxnet can do. You see free files we give for free. You see attacks on banks and SWIFT in news. Maybe there is Equation Group version of cryptolocker+stuxnet for banks and financial systems? If Equation Group lose control of cyber weapons, who else lose or find cyber weapons? If electronic data go bye bye where leave Wealthy Elites? Maybe with dumb cattle? “Do you feel in charge?” Wealthy Elites, you send bitcoins, you bid in auction, maybe big advantage for you?


Last but not the least, the language used by the hackers is awful which again points out to the possibility of deceiving tactics being used by the hackers. The hackers never seem to care about the language and this case is totally distinct from the rest. It seems like it has been meticulously planned and written awfully. All these reasons strongly point out to the case of spying through human intelligence.

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