Hackers going by the name Shadow Brokers said they will auction stolen surveillance tools that are linked to the U.S. National Security Agency. The group said interested parties had to send funds in advance of winning the auction via Bitcoin currency and would not get their money back if they lost. To arouse interest in the auction, the hackers released samples of programs they said could break into popular firewall software made by companies including Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Fortinet. The companies did not respond to request for a comment and there was no response from the NSA. The Shadow Brokers promised in postings on a Tumblr blog that the auctioned material would contain “cyberweapons” developed by the Equation Group, a hacking group that cybersecurity experts widely believe to be an arm of the NSA.
The Shadow Brokers said the programs they will auction will be “better than Stuxnet,” which is a malicious computer worm. Reuters could not contact the Shadow Brokers or verify their assertions. Some experts who looked at the samples posted on Tumblr said they included programs that had previously been described and therefore were unlikely to cause major damage. Professionals stated that some of the data released was fairly old and even a couple years old in some cases. Still, they appeared to be genuine tools that might work if flaws have not been addressed. Other security experts warned the posting could prove to be a scam.
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