Russia May Have Just ‘Blown’ Some Of NSA’s Most Secretive Espionage Ops


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Saagar Enjeti White House Correspondent
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An internet hacking collective with possible ties to Russia claims it hacked the NSA and is selling its cutting edge espionage malware to the highest bidder.

The group calls itself ‘The Shadow Brokers” and claims the code includes bits of NSA malware, reported the BBC, referencing file-sharing site Pastebin where the group’s hack first appeared. The NSA uses such malware to spy on network gear on which most government agencies and companies rely to conduct business. The NSA has not confirmed the authenticity of the files the hacking collective released, but experts say they are likely genuine.

“It’ll blow some operations if those haven’t already been blown,” former NSA research scientist and cybersecurity expert Dave Aitel told Foreign Policy. Aitel, now CEO of cybersec company Immunity, believes the sophistication of the cyber attack could only have been carried out by a nation-state, and that Russia is responsible.

The hack has not yet been attributed to Russian intelligence agencies, but the surreptitious release mimics past Russian actions. Russia is believed to have hacked the Democratic National Committee and distributed to WikiLeaks, for example. Two independent cybersecurity expert firms attributed the hack to Russian intelligence agencies. Furthermore, U.S. intelligence officials generally consider WikiLeaks, the source of the leak, to be an intelligence arm of the Kremlin.

Even NSA fugitive Edward Snowden speculated Tuesday on Twitter about the Kremlin’s responsibility for the hack. Snowdenstated, “Circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility,” continuing that the leak was likely disseminated to allow foreign governments to prove the U.S. hacked its systems by tracing the released malware.

If the NSA malware is authenticated, Snowden believes it could be used to embarrass the U.S. for spying, especially if the malware is detected on U.S. allies. When Snowden’s own leak revealed U.S. operations that tapped German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s cellphone, it sparked an international incident with an important NATO ally.

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