In an ironic twist, the U.S’s National Security Agency (NSA) has been hacked by hackers. Their elite hacking tools are now up for auction for over half a million dollars, available to the highest bidder.
What is the Equation Group?
The “Equation Group” is a cyber-attack group widely suspected to be part of the NSA. In a 2015 report by security firm Kapersky, it was described as “a threat actor that surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques, and that has been active for almost two decades.”
According to Kapersky, these are the victims of Equation Group worldwide
A bunch of the Equation Group’s tools have already been dumped online, including malware, private exploits and hacking tools. Some of these are designed to specifically target the routers and firewalls of U.S. and Chinese manufacturers such as Cisco, Juniper, Fortinet, and Topsec.
The “best” cyber-weapons and files are being put up for auction by the hackers who cracked the Equation Group, who call themselves the “Shadow Brokers“. They claim only 60% of the files are online.
The Shadow Brokers said they would release the data to the highest bidder. So far, they have received three offers. If they received 1 million bitcoins, or roughly $568 million US dollars, they said they would release all the files.
Is The Equation Group Hack Real?
While the validity of the hack has not been absolutely confirmed, some security experts say the files released by the Shadow Brokers look authentic. If it was a hoax, the perpetrators had put in a “huge amount of effort.”
“I haven’t tested the exploits, but they definitely look like legitimate exploits,” Matt Suiche, the founder of UAE-based cybersecurity firm Comae Technologies, said.
“These files are not fully fake for sure,” Bencsáth Boldizsár, a CrySyS researcher credited with the discovery of the Flame malware said. “Most likely they are part of the NSA toolset, judging just by the volume and peeps into the samples.”
Equation Group has been linked to the infamous Regin and Stuxnet attacks. These attacks were allegedly United States sponsored hacks, but the link was never proven.
The Lesson Behind The Hack
Regardless of the Equation Group’s suspected ties, it just goes to prove that even the most secure servers are not above being compromised, no matter your security setup. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should throw all precautions to the wind!
Security software can make it harder for rank-and-file malware and viruses to infect your systems. To make absolutely sure your servers never experience catastrophic data loss, make sure to back up your server data regularly on two different devices, and have one of those devices off-site.
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