The US intelligence community is reeling from what veterans call the biggest cyber security breach ever.
Just over a year ago, hackers got into the National Security Agency (NSA), getting away with some of the agency’s top cyber security defenses and weapons.
The cyber weapons were then used to launch ransomware attacks against hospitals, banks, shipping and drug companies.
The question remains: who are the Shadow Brokers? The group has claimed responsibility for the security breach, and is now taunting the country in posts riddled with spelling errors – recently writing: “Is NSA chasing shadowses?”
Cybersecurity experts are scratching their heads trying to find out whether the breach was the work of foreign hackers or someone on the inside.
Former NSA analyst Oren Falkowitz says it’s certainly had a chilling effect on NSA staffers, as they wonder whether it was a foreign hacker or someone on the inside.
“It puts them under suspicion, it puts the people they work with into question and it slows the progress of protecting the country,” he told NBC News.
One online post by the ‘Shadow Brokers’ hints at a Russian connection: “Russian security peoples is becoming Russian hackeres at nights, but only full moons.”
“The NSA and FBI have taken this breach extremely seriously but their inability to actually find the root cause is deeply problematic. It means that additional information could be exfiltrated,” said Michael Leiter, NBC National Security Analyst.
The damage is said to be among the most severe ever. Veterans, say it’s full-scale cyber warfare, requiring both a strong offense and defense.
“The advantage is with the attacker because they have the ability to study a system, find its weaknesses, and find a way inside,” said Leo Taddeo, the FBI’s former chief cyber agent in New York.