A previously unfamiliar group of hackers calling themselves the “Shadow Brokers” claim to have hacked and accessed a “full state sponsor tool set” of cyber-attack codes from cyber spies believed to be associated with the National Security Agency (NSA). This group of spies is known as “the Equation Group” and is considered one of the world’s most sophisticated cyber-intelligence groups. While many believe this assertion is simply a hoax and are still being analyzed by cyber experts, others who have examined this first data dump claim the files look surprisingly authentic. “We hack Equation Group. We find many Equation Group cyber weapons. You see pictures. We give you some Equation Group files free, you see,” the Hacking group wrote on Tumblr. This cyber tool set supposedly “affects routers built by U.S. firms – Cisco Systems Inc., Juniper Networks Inc. and Fortinet Inc. – and two Chinese companies – Shaanxi Networkcloud Information Technology Co. and Beijing Topsec Network Security Technology Co.,” according to a recent Wall Street Journal article.
While further details are currently limited, the hacking group is asking for nearly half a billion dollars in bit coins (1 million bitcoins) for the complete cyber arsenal. Many experts, including Edward Snowden and Nicholas Weaver, a computer security researcher at the University of California at Berkeley, suspect the cyber-thieves are linked to Russian intelligence agencies. If these attacks do have a Russian affiliation, which the poor English suggests, this hack, along with promises of more to come, would be the biggest NSA data-dump since Snowden’s whistleblowing tweets in 2013.