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How and Why Hackers Leaked the NSA’s Spying Tools

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How and Why Hackers Leaked the NSA’s Spying Tools
On April 8, 2017, Edward Snowden tweeted about the NSA losing control of its top-secret arsenal of digital weapons, due to a hacker leak. Snowden’s tweet refers to a group of hackers known as Shadow Brokers, who allegedly leaked NSA spying tools as a means of punishing President Trump for ‘abandoning’ his base.

The Shadow Brokers are anonymous computer hackers, responsible for (1) collecting malware created by NSA from a staging server ran by NSA’s internal hacking team known as the Equation Group. Shadow Brokers published the NSA hacking tools in 2016.

Online Bidding Contest

As well as publishing a collection of free files to enable experts in cyber-security to validate the accuracy of their claims, the mysterious hackers also released another set of files. The hackers had encrypted the files with a password that they promised to give to whoever won an online bidding contest in an auction for the password.

However, the auction failed to attract the attention the group had hoped and, when nobody stepped forward in the bidding war, in December 2016, the Shadow Brokers began to sell some of the tools off individually.

In January 2017, the Shadow Brokers (2) announced they were calling it quits, retiring just before President Trump’s inauguration.

The Hacker Letter

Now it seems the elusive Shadow Brokers are back, as on April 8 this year, the group (3) published a politically-charged letter to President Trump on, with the headline ‘Don’t Forget Your Base’.

The letter, which looks like it has been poorly translated from another language, highlights the group’s discontent at Trump, pointing out how the Shadow Brokers had voted for and supports the President but is losing faith in him.

“Is appearing you are abandoning ‘your base’, ‘the movement’, and the peoples who getting you elected,” writes the hacker group, which then proceed to map out “good evidence” that Trump is abandoning “the people”.

This “evidence” includes the Goldman Sachs and the Military Industrial Intelligence Complex cabinet, backtracking on Obamacare, attacking the Freedom Caucus, removing Bannon from the NSC and increasing US involvement in a foreign war (Syria Strike).

The Shadow Broker’s post in the Medium includes the group offering to reveal a password which gives free access to the files the hackers had previously attempted to auction off but failed to garner much interest.

In the Shadow Brokers’ recent post, the group claims it is releasing the files in protest against Donald Trump after losing faith in his leadership.

Allegedly driven by contempt of Trump “forgetting his base”, the hacker group released the passwords to a trove on exploits by the NSA. The passwords unlock NSA’s hacking tools and include servers which belong to various universities and companies, allegedly used to install malware.

Snowden Responds

Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who, in 2013, was the (4) source behind the biggest intelligence leak in NSA’s history, riveting himself to global notoriety in the process, took to Twitter to confirm the leak included authentic NSA software.

Snowden also noted on Twitter that NSA should be able to “instantly identify where this set came from and how they lost it. If they can’t, it’s a scandal.”

As well as Snowden, WikiLeaks took to Twitter, (5) tweeting the Shadow Brokers NSA dump shows “hacking attacks on EU states, LatAm, Russia, China, Japan and South East Asia.”

The recent announcement of the hacked NSA spying tools have certainly brought the Shadow Brokers out of retirement and back into the limelight, but we are still none the wiser as to who the group is and what their motives are, other than being resentful of President Trump and many of his actions since being in office.

As (6) Forbes writes, some believe Shadow Brokers is a disgruntled intelligent officer, while others pin the group on Russia and some believe it’s a collection of hackers.

While Edward Snowden insists that NSA should be able to instantly identify where the hack came from and how they managed to lose such a large collection of files, we are still none the wiser as to who the mysterious and secretive Shadow Brokers. We are also unsure of whether the hackers real motives for leaking NSA spy tools are nothing more than being hacked off about many of Trump’s controversial policies since coming into power.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Tech Crunch
(2) Bleeping Computer
(4) Top Secret Writers
(5) Git Hub
(6) Forbes

Originally published on

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Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

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Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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