ShadowBrokers complain nobody wants the Euquation Group’s full dump

Pierluigi Paganini October 03, 2016

The ShadowBrokers behind the Equation Group hack is very upset that no one is still bidding on the full dump of the NSA arsenal.

Once again we are here to report about the NSA-linked Equation Group and its hacking arsenal leaked online by a group of hackers who called itself TheShadowBrokers. The group of hackers claimed to have hacked the NSA Equation Group, then he tried to sell the hacking tools and exploits in an online auction.

According to the Reuters, sources close to the investigation revealed that the NSA knew about the data breach for three years but it maintained the secret in the case.

The sources provided further elements of the alleged attack against the US Intelligence Agency, the NSA itself wasn’t directly hacked by the ShadowBrokers group and the NSA hacking tools and exploits were not stolen by the popular whistleblower Edward Snowden.

According to the sources, it seems that an employee or a contractor mistakenly left the NSA hacking tools unattended on a remote server about three years ago during a cyber operation. The NSA was aware of the incident and did not inform the companies of the risks related to the exposure of the exploits.

Now TheShadowBrokers complain that no one seems to be bidding on their precious archive, early Saturday morning, an alleged member of the hacker group expressed its dissent on the lack of interest in ponying up bitcoins to release the full NSA data dump.

Equation Group Targets

At the time of this writing, the ShadowBrokers team has collected bids for a total of 1.76 bitcoins (roughly $1,100), but the dreaded team was expecting to earn as far as $1 million.

“Peoples is having interest in free files. But people is no interest in #EQGRP_Auction. TheShadowBrokers is thinking this is information communication problem. You people be thinking as TheShadowBrokers. How you sell secrets? Making most money? Quickly? Least amount effort? Maintaining anonymity? You be making suggestion #EQGRP_Auction.” the ShadowBrokers’s member wrote in a post published on Medium. 

There is still no evidence that TheShadowBrokers is a nation-state actor, neither it is currently working with the Kremlin.

Back to the story, I’m not surprised that the remaining part of the hacking arsenal was not requested by any actor in the wild. The NSA avoided to disclose the alleged mistake in order to track and hack back the thieves.

The NSA TAO team was able to scan the Internet for evidence of the use of the powerful tools. Another element to consider is that probably most of the exploit in the arsenal are no more effective because the data were stolen year ago.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs –  The Equation Group, ShadowBrokers)

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