The US National Security Agency is in crisis after hacking in 2016 with malicious programs that the intelligence agency used to infiltrate devices and networks around the world.
Shadow Brokers hacker group published the program code of programs abducted from the NSA. It was then used to create viruses that caused great damage to computers around the world. The NSA does not officially comment on the situation, but the New York Times considers it proved that the stolen cyber weapon belongs to the special services. This was confirmed by the former and current employees of the National Security Agency.
According to them, the actions of Shadow Brokers caused “catastrophic consequences for the NSA”: its ability to protect powerful cyber weapons, as well as the value of the security services for national security were called into question. “The agency, which is considered the world leader in hacking computer networks of opponents, could not protect its own networks,” the newspaper writes.
The publication notes that the theft of documents is comparable to the “earthquake that shocked the NSA to the ground.” It is assumed that the damage from Shadow Brokers can be much greater than that caused by ex-CIA and NSA officer Edward Snowden. He revealed the name of the programs of mass surveillance, and the hackers laid out the program code and thereby allowed them to be used by third parties.
According to the New York Times, US intelligence agencies can not even determine how the leak occurred and whether any of the employees were involved in it. Large-scale inspections are under way. “At the headquarters of the agency in Maryland and in offices around the country, NSA officers are forced to take tests on the lie detector and remove from work <…>. Morality has fallen, experienced specialists leave the agency for work that is better paid, including in firms that protect computer networks from intrusions using NSA tools,” the newspaper writes. Since 2015, three employees have been arrested for stealing data, but it is unclear whether the situation in the NSA has improved, the newspaper notes.
The former employee of the “hacker” department of the security service, Jake Williams, whose name and place of work was also revealed by Shadow Brokers, called the event “a multi-level catastrophe.” He confirmed that law enforcement officers “hunt” for those involved in the hacking, but so far no one has been caught.
According to the newspaper, Russia remains one of the main suspects in hacking, which has more than once rejected accusations of the American special services. It did not result in any evidence of Russian participation. The New York Times mentioned only that the company Kaspersky Lab was one of the first to “figure out” the hacker unit of the National Security Agency and put its software on protection against hacking NSA. Thus, it “reduced the flow of intelligence information,” the newspaper said. In 2017, the US administration banned the use of Kaspersky products on computers of the federal government.