Security Experts:

"Shadow Brokers" Leaks Servers Allegedly Hacked by NSA

The group calling itself Shadow Brokers has leaked more files, including a list of servers allegedly used by the NSA-linked Equation Group in its attacks.

The Shadow Brokers emerged in mid-August when it leaked 300 Mb of firewall exploits and implants allegedly taken from Equation Group servers. While many of the exploits were old, they still helped firewall vendors discover some previously unknown vulnerabilities.

The threat actor initially attempted to auction the other files it possessed, but after that plan failed, it announced that everything would be made public once it raised 10,000 bitcoins. With only just over 2 bitcoins raised so far, it’s unlikely that this plan will work.

However, Shadow Group announced on Monday the release of a new batch of files. They suggested that the IPs mentioned in these files correspond to machines used by the Equation Group to breach networks.

The latest leak has been analyzed by several security experts. Researcher Mustafa Al-Bassam said the files appear to contain a list of compromised servers used by the Equation Group as exploit staging servers. However, the expert pointed out that since the targets were compromised between 2000 and 2010, the affected machines have most likely been cleaned up by now.

However, an analysis of the dump conducted by Hacker House shows that some of the affected hosts are still active and running the previously undisclosed tools mentioned in the latest leak.

“These hosts may still contain forensic artifacts of the Equation Group APT group and should be subject to incident response handling procedures,” researchers said.

The list of tools referenced in the files includes DEWDROP, INCISION, JACKLADDER, ORANGUTAN, PATCHICILLIN, RETICULUM, SIDETRACK and STOICSURGEON. Other tools referenced in the leak are Intonation and Pitchimpair – Shadow Brokers suggested that the latter is some sort of redirector tool. It’s worth noting that the names of these tools seem to follow the same naming convention as the ones from the NSA’s famous ANT catalog.

Hacker House has identified 352 IP addresses and 306 domain names, including 32 .edu and 9 .gov domains, distributed across 49 countries, mostly in the Asia Pacific region. The top 10 affected countries are China, Japan, Korea, Spain, Germany, India, Taiwan, Mexico, Italy and Russia.

According to Hacker House, there is indication that the Equation Group may have been using a Sendmail exploit.

In its latest statement, Shadow Brokers also discusses the upcoming elections in the United States. The group has urged people to disrupt the elections, either through hacking or physical actions, such as protests and smashing voting equipment.

The hackers insist that their main goal is to make money from the Equation Group files, but many experts pointed out that the files are not as valuable as the hackers believe them to be.

It’s still unclear who is behind the Shadow Brokers. Theories include the Russian government, an NSA insider and opportunistic hackers who found the data on a server. A linguistic analysis conducted by Taia Global suggests that whoever is behind Shadow Brokers is a native English speaker trying to appear non-native. The latest statement published by the group seems to support this theory.

Related: NSA Contractor Arrested for Theft of Classified Material

Related: Industry Reactions to Shadow Brokers Leak

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Eduard Kovacs is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek. He worked as a high school IT teacher for two years before starting a career in journalism as Softpedia’s security news reporter. Eduard holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial informatics and a master’s degree in computer techniques applied in electrical engineering.