CategoriesHackingSecurity

Are The Shadow Brokers Like Snowden? Theory Suggests Insider Hack

By now, most of our readers have heard of the Shadow Brokers, the hacker group who obtained a large trove of data from the National Security Agency (NSA) and leaked information about the NSA’s cyber tools. The cyber tools were apparently stolen from the Equation Group, a cyber attack operation who experts believe are part of the NSA.

(Watch a quick overview about the NSA hack – “NSA Reportedly Hacked By Group Called The Shadow Brokers”):

Initially, evidence suggested that the Shadow Brokers were Russian, but a new theory is emerging that whoever is leaking this data might be “a second Edward Snowden… albeit one with different motives” (Fortune). James Bamfield, a journalist who is well known for his publications about United States intelligence agencies, believes that Russia would not want to publish these hacks if they obtained them, because companies would quickly patch their vulnerabilities and the information would soon be worthless to anyone trying to sell the data. He also brings up that the bad English used by the hackers seems to be phony. Furthermore, he suggests that the hacker(s) could be linked to the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations (TAO) which is a unit of the surveillance agency that gathers intelligence related to cyber-warfare. He states:

“Rather than the NSA hacking tools being snatched as a result of a sophisticated cyber operation by Russia or some other nation, it seems more likely that an employee stole them. Experts who have analyzed the files suspect that they date to October 2013, five months after Edward Snowden left his contractor position with the NSA and fled to Hong Kong carrying flash drives containing hundreds of thousands of pages of NSA documents.

So, if Snowden could not have stolen the hacking tools, there are indications that after he departed in May 2013, someone else did, possibly someone assigned to the agency’s highly sensitive Tailored Access Operations” (Reuters).

As of now, the “second Snowden” theory is just that – a theory. Most experts still say Russia is behind the hacks. Nevertheless, as Bamford puts it in his commentary – the “NSA may prove to be one of Washington’s greatest liabilities rather than assets.”

CategoriesBitcoinHackingNews

A Seized Silk Road Wallet is Moving Bitcoin to the NSA Hackers

Last week, a group called the “Shadow Brokers” claimed to have hacked the NSA – stealing their code, exploits and spy tools. They leaked bits of information on GitHub and claimed the information was stolen from the Equation Group, a group who most believe is a computer surveillance wing of the NSA. The Shadow Brokers says they will auction off the data to the highest bidder. Leaks from Edward Snowden have demonstrated that this hack is legit. (The Register) Security experts believe that the hacker group is Russian.

Now it appears that there are some Bitcoin moving from a seized Silk Road wallet to the Shadow Broker’s auction. This leads some experts to believe that “the US government is potentially bidding to prevent stolen NSA exploits and tools from ending up in the wrong hands”. It could also mean that the government might be making an attempt to trace where the Bitcoins are going. Additionally, it must be noted that the co-founder of a major Bitcoin investigation company says that payments are also going in the other direction. This could simply indicate that spam is being sent in very small payments to famous addresses. (ZDNet)

So far, the Shadow Brokers have collected around $1000 in Bitcoin payments – a far cry from the 1 million Bitcoins they have demanded (which would be worth just over a half a billion $USD at the time of this writing). The U.S. government seized several thousand Bitcoin when shutting down Silk Road, so this may be their source of funds when dealing with the Shadow Broker hackers.

Learn more about the Shadow Brokers hack of the NSA here:

CategoriesHackingInternetPrivacy

Fans of Hello Kitty Experience Data Breach

3.3 million people could be affected by a recent data breach of Hello Kitty fans’ information from the website SanrioTown.com. The data included usernames passwords hints, email addresses and other sensitive information like names, birth dates and more.

The breached data was publicly available, there was no actual hacking done to obtain this information. A security researcher, Chris Vickery, notified Sanrio about the hole in their database and it has since been patched. Sanrio has made a statement that there is no evidence that any data was actually stolen. Vickery has gone to the press about this because he believes companies too easily have the ‘Oh, it won’t happen to me’ mentality”. This may bring to mind the case of the grey-hat hacker, Andrew Auernheimer (weev), who found similar flaw that displayed personal information on AT&T iPad users on public URLs. Auernheimer was later brought up on charges for conspiracy to access a computer without authorization.

Another concern about this breach is whether or not children’s information was exposed.

“Sanrio said it doesn’t create accounts for children under 13. However, the leaked information, which came from users all over the world, appears to include accounts for those under age 18.” –CNET

Sanrio hosts popular children’s games such as Hello Kitty Online.