Because the news is filled to overflowing with the surprising machinations of President, Donald Trump, we might forgive the media for failing to fully expose the seditious acts originally purported to be the work of his disgruntled supporters, the Shadow Brokers*. (Click) (“Seriously Beware the ‘Shadow Brokers’” by Dune Lawrence, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 8-14, 2017 pgs. 34-35.) Because of their discontent, they have taken their disruption to heights that imperil the nation and the world.
In April of this year, under the trade name DoublePulsar, (Click) the Shadow Brokers dumped the National Security Agency’s (NSA) primary hacking tools on to the internet, including the agency’s infamous “back door” capability. That is the tool that opens our computers to “an almost unlimited level of remote control” from anywhere in the world. (Ibid pg. 34.)
The NSA is making no comment about the theft. Microsoft, whose programs are vulnerable, has downplayed the event and insisted the problem is under control. Meanwhile customers on the dark side of the net can purchase these tools under their retail names, “Eternal Blue” and “Eternal Romance.”
Says one expert, “Every major malware family – botnets, spyware, banking malware – they’re going to be incorporating these into their attacks.” (Ibid pg. 35.) How true. One Swiss Security company saw the rate of infection in April climb from 106.410 incidents to 428,827. What’s more, three days after the programs appeared on the dark web, someone provided tutorials on how to use them. For the latest worldwide attack using NSA tools read NPR’s report. (Click)
The problem wouldn’t be major if all of us knew about the release and how to patch it. Most of us don’t because the media is busy chasing Trump’s multiple top government firings and the “Russian connection.” John Q. Public is on its own. Not much new about that.
Here’s my advice to those who brave the pirate seas of the internet: make certain you upgrade your computer regularly and know someone younger and wiser who is savvy about the dark side.
*Since writing this blog, Shadow Broker involvement is uncertain.