WASHINGTON: The US National Security Agency, which gained international notoriety in 2013 after Edward Snowden revealed its data snooping techniques, has itself become the target of an apparent data breach.
Mysterious hackers calling themselves the “Shadow Brokers” leaked online what appears to be classified NSA computer code.
Several security experts told US media the code appears genuine, and Snowden said “circumstantial evidence” pointed to Russian involvement. As of Wednesday, the NSA still had not responded to multiple requests for comment.
The hackers over the weekend posted two sets of files, one that is freely accessible and another that remains encrypted.
The Shadow Brokers said they would release this additional information subject to raising 1 million Bitcoins — digital currency, in this case worth about $575 million — through an online auction.
According to The New York Times, much of the code was created to peer through the computer firewalls of foreign powers like Russia, China and Iran. Such access would enable the NSA to plant malware in rivals’ systems and monitor — or even attack — their networks.
Whoever obtained the code would have had to break into NSA servers that store the files, the Times said.
Former NSA employees who worked at the agency’s hacking division known as Tailored Access Operations told The Washington Post the hack appeared genuine.
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