On Monday, August 15, an anonymous hacking group calling itself the Shadow Brokers has claimed that they will sell a collection of files stolen from a spy group linked to the U.S. National Security Agency through an auction.
Shadow Brokers Hacking Group
According to Reuters, the hackers released samples of software tools they claim could break into popular firewall software, in order to increase interest in the auction. The software tools could bypass firewalls made by various cybersecurity companies, including Juniper Networks Inc, Cisco Systems Inc, and Fortinet Inc.
The Shadow Brokers made their claims on a Tumblr blog post written in imperfect English. Until now, neither the National Security Agency (NSA) nor the cyber security companies did comment on the claim.
The Auctioned Cyber-Weapons
The hacking group promised that the auctioned material would contain "cyber weapons" developed by the Equation Group. According to cyber security experts, the Equation Group could be an arm of the NSA.
The Shadow Brokers also claimed that the hacking tools they will auction will be "better than Stuxnet," a malicious computer worm attributed to Israel and the United States and use sabotage Iran's nuclear program.
According to Wired, the Shadow Brokers also released a sample of the stolen data to convince their potential customers of their claims. At least in part, the hacking group's claims might be true. Security researchers who downloaded the sample found some intriguing data, such as code matching up with actual exploits used by the NSA.
Claudio Guarnieri, a researcher at the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab specialized in state-sponsored malware analysis, said that the files auctioned by the hacking group look as if the NSA attacked someone who actually managed to counter-hack.
The code does corroborate some of the exploits from a catalogue leaked in 2013 by Snowden that lists software tools used by the NSA's Tailored Access Operations hacking team. However, it is unclear for now if the code can be attributed to NSA-linked hacker teams such as the Equation Group, according to Guarnieri.