Published: Sun, April 16, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Merle Christensen

New leak suggests NSA penetrated Mideast banking networks


In case you missed it, hacking tools that were confirmed to belong to the NSA's so-called Equation Group were stolen past year in one of the biggest breaches of classified files since the Edward Snowden revelations.

These exploits have been allegedly used by the NSA to target several banks and the SWIFT banking system. In what is now considered to be one of the most damaging leaks ever to come to light, the hacker group has unleashed exploits that could enable hackers across the world to launch fraud and cyberattack campaigns that could likely drain banks of millions, according to reports.

Now it seems that the NSA gained access to SWIFT customer accounts through one of SWIFT's service bureaus to monitor money flow in the Middle East, although EastNets has denied the claim.

"While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in any way", said Hazem Mulhim, CEO of EastNets in a statement.

"We've investigated and confirmed that the exploits disclosed by the Shadow Brokers have already been addressed by previous updates to our supported products", the company wrote.

But the organisation said that the local messaging systems of some Swift client banks had been breached.

The Shadow Brokers, the hacker group that previously tried to auction off hacking tools acquired from the NSA, released a new dump of programs today.

Beaumont said there was bad news in the release for Microsoft as well, explaining that the malicious code published Friday appeared to exploit previously undiscovered weaknesses in older versions of its Windows operating system - the mark of a sophisticated actor and a potential worry for many Windows users.

The Shadow Brokers past year dumped malware it said came from the Equation Group, which is associated with NSA.

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"SWIFT is aware of allegations surrounding the unauthorized access to data at two service bureaus", a spokesperson for the group told The Reg. "I have been able to hack pretty much every Windows version here in my lab using this leak".

The tools were announced on Friday by a group calling itself "The Shadow Brokers".

In a statement, EastNets said there was "no credibility" to the allegation that its customers' details had been stolen.

Microsoft's response to the leaks comes several hours after Shadow Brokers' dumped a treasure trove of alleged NSA-leaked data on the interwebs.

However, NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden took to Twitter to call EastNets' bluff.

The NSA targeted nine computer servers at a SWIFT contractor, Dubai-based service bureau EastNets, according to the documents.

"Maybe if all surviving WWIII, theshadowbrokers be seeing you next week", Friday's post read.

While Microsoft didn't explicitly accept that these three exploits affect unsupported versions, it did suggest Windows users to update their systems to the latest offerings. The releases are published with unusual and misspelled blog posts, and recent posts have been critical of the Trump administration.

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