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Shadow Brokers rant about people wanting stolen NSA-linked hacking tools for free

Oct 02, 20164 mins
Data and Information SecuritySecurity

The Shadow Brokers sounded angry when the group complained about people wanting the stolen NSA-linked hacking tools for free.

The hacking group trying to auction off NSA-linked Equation Group hacking tools is unhappy because no one has coughed up the big bucks yet to buy the exploits.

On Saturday, the Shadow Brokers took to Medium to release the group’s third message. The hackers sound hurt that people don’t trust them and – if cursing is any indication – the hackers are angry that the Equation Group cyber weapons auction has flopped so far.

The Shadow Brokers want $1 million dollars and sound irritated that interested parties want the stolen hacking tools for free. “Peoples is having interest in free files. But people is no interest in #EQGRP_Auction.”

Although the writing style is likely to throw analysts off the track of determining who wrote Shadow Brokers’ messages, the allegedly forced broken English gets annoying fast even if you aren’t a grammar Nazi. That might partially be why the group’s second message was basically ignored by the media; however, it did mention a bid of 1.5 bitcoins which is currently worth about $915. The blockchain info shows a measly 1.761821 bitcoins received in total – which was worth $1,073.85 at the time of publishing.

What are they auctioning off besides the firewall toolkit, released as proof about the “remote exploits, privilege escalations, persistence mechanisms, RATs, LPs, and post-exploit collection utilities”? The Shadow Brokers claim to have more Equation Group toolkits for other platforms like “Windows, Unix/Linux, Routers, Databases, Mobile, Telecom. Newer revisions too. The auction file is toolkit for one of other platforms. Includes remote exploits, local exploits/privilege escalations, persistence mechanisms, RATs, LPs, post-exploit collection utilities. Value estimated in millions of euros/dollars.”

Four different sources told Reuters that the NSA believes Russian hackers got hold of the exploits after an employee or contractor “carelessly left them available on a remote computer.” That mistake allegedly occurred about three years ago after an operation, which used the tools, ended.

*If you are offended by cussing, even partially redacted cursing, then you might want to avoid reading the rest.

The Shadow Brokers claim the group is not selling the hacking tools in the underground because doing so is not as easy as whipping “out a phone book of reputable underground cyber arms dealers and make text and voicemail.”

The auction idea is compared to selling a million-dollar piece of art, asking if you would sell it at a yard sale or at a “rich f**k auction house.” The group added, “Is thinking peoples is having more balls, is taking bigger risks for to make advantage over adversaries. Equation Group is pwning you every day, because you are giant f**king p**sies.”

Shadow Brokers say the group doesn’t want 1 million bitcoins, but 1 million dollars via bitcoins. “Three different files. #1 = Free File is free. #2 = Auction File is auction. #3 = Consolation Prize file is for losing bidders if goal reached (goal not reached).”

And to security experts who have complained that the hacking tools in the free file were old, the Shadow Brokers came up with an interesting analogy: “Exploit is being like good p**sy, what difference between 20yr old and 40yr old, if both getting job done? When you giving away sh*t for free, you giving new sh*t or old sh*t? $12 million is being pretty good free sh*t!”

Old or not, the exploits were not known by the targeted companies and were just patched in August. The whole ordeal renewed criticisms about the NSA hoarding zero-days.

Bitcoin was not the group’s “first choice for privacy,” but it listed out issues with other cryptocurrencies such as Monero, Ether and Dash.

The no refund policy as well as the no end date to the auction were also addressed. As for the latter, Shadow Brokers exploded with an enraged, “Holy f**king sh*t, so many f**king rules with you peoples.”

If someone will just show a little trust by bidding the asking price in the auction which the group swears is legit, then the Shadow Brokers promise to disappear and never be heard from again.

ms smith

Ms. Smith (not her real name) is a freelance writer and programmer with a special and somewhat personal interest in IT privacy and security issues. She focuses on the unique challenges of maintaining privacy and security, both for individuals and enterprises. She has worked as a journalist and has also penned many technical papers and guides covering various technologies. Smith is herself a self-described privacy and security freak.