New leak suggests NSA penetrated banking networks in Middle East

Posted April 16, 2017

Files released by the mysterious hacker "Shadow Brokers" on Friday suggested the US National Security Agency (NSA) had penetrated the SWIFT banking network and monitored a number of Middle East banks.

This entire saga all started Friday after a hacker group known as the Shadow Brokers released tools created to target Windows PCs and servers, along with presentations and files purporting to detail the agency's methods of carrying out clandestine surveillance.

Last week, the Shadow Brokers protested Donald Trump's involvement in Syria when they released a password that unlocked a trove of NSA exploits.

Contrary to what Ars and the rest of the world reported Friday, none of the published exploits stolen from the National Security Agency work against now supported Microsoft products.

Through an official blog post released on Saturday, the Redmond giant has confirmed that it has already patched most of the exploits and it is completely safe to use all supported versions of Windows.

"This means that security vulnerabilities found on those systems will never be corrected", Suiche wrote.

The firm took to Twitter to post a statement that said that there was "no credibility to the online claim of a compromise of EastNets customer information on its SWIFT service bureau".

The data appears to originate in September 2013 and details how operatives could penetrate the firewalls and monitor the transactions of the largest SWIFT Service Bureau of the Middle East, called EastNets.

According to another report in Fortune, the group - believed to be tied to the Russian government - also released a set of confidential hacking tools used by United States intelligence organisation the NSA to exploit software vulnerabilities in Microsoft Windows software.

The Windows hacking tools that were released are used for remote exploits.

"The NSA knew their hacking methods were stolen previous year, but refused to tell software makers how to lock the thieves out".

If Microsoft is correct that its software has been patched, the company sidesteps one of the grave concerns of ShadowBrokers-style leaks.

The NSA could not immediately be reached for comment.

Hickey told WIRED that the Windows hacking tool appears to target all recent version of Windows, with the exception of the latest, Windows 10. As mentioned above, one theory is that someone from the NSA privately gave Microsoft warning that the leaks were imminent. But the group's identity remains a secret.

Since their emergence, they appear to have had little to no success selling their pilfered tools and instead have begun to release the actual tools they had claimed to be trying to auction off.

The documents and files were released by a group calling themselves the Shadow Brokers.

Experts believe that the blowback of the Shadow Brokers' latest release will likely leave the intelligence community reeling for quite a while. We asked Microsoft if the NSA at any point offered to provide information that would help protect Windows users from these attacks, given that the leak has been threatened since August 2016, to which they replied "our focus at this time is reviewing the current report".

The fact that Shadow Brokers are now giving away their tools puzzles experts. He has reported from more than two-dozen countries including Iraq, Yemen, DRC, and South Sudan.