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Used Swift? You could have been spied on

16 April, 2017, 02:48 | Author: Abraham Jackson

Files released by the mysterious hacker "Shadow Brokers" on Friday suggested the US National Security Agency (NSA) had penetrated the SWIFT banking network and monitored a number of Middle East banks.

The SWIFT messaging system is used by banks to transfer trillions of dollars each day.

EastNets is one of 74 local service bureaus worldwide certified by Swift, acting as an interface between the global network and smaller banks and financial institutions in the Middle East.

Experts have been reviewing the latest Shadow Brokers release and one of the more risky findings is evidence of exploiting the SWIFT banking transaction system. However, Cris Thomas, strategist at Tenable Network Security, said today's dump "seems to be the largest and most damaging release to date". However, the firm did concede to the possibility that the local messaging system of some of its clients could have been breached.

Swift was successfully targeted by hackers a year ago when criminals stole $81m from the Bangladeshi central bank.

The "auction" file materials were underwhelming, but today those wiley and sarcastic (and probably Russian) hackers dumped the really unbelievable stuff: operational notes from the NSA's active targeting of banks in the Middle East and the NSA's collection of Microsoft Windows exploitation tools.

The exploits, published by the Shadow Brokers yesterday, contained vulnerabilities in Windows computers and servers.

"SWIFT is aware of allegations surrounding the unauthorized access to data at two service bureaus", a spokesperson for the group told The Reg.

Microsoft's response comes hours after unnecessary fear from several security researchers, including one who advised Windows users to turn off their machines for the weekend.

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Microsoft said in a statement to Reuters that it was reviewing the matter "and will take the necessary actions to protect our customers".

The newly leaked set of documents were published by a group calling itself TheShadowBrokers.

Via that entry point, the agency appears to have monitored transactions involving several banks and financial institutions in Kuwait, Dubai, Bahrain, Jordan, Yemen and Qatar.

The hacked tools alarmed famous U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, who first uncovered the extent of NSA's illegal spying in 2013.

Experts believe that the blowback of the Shadow Brokers' latest release will likely leave the intelligence community reeling for quite a while.

The Shadow Brokers came on the scene in the summer of 2016 when they announced they had a trove of stolen NSA tools that they then put up for auction.

Files released by "Shadow Brokers" also suggest the NSA exploited weaknesses in Microsoft Windows products.

The leaked archive also contains the NSA's equivalent of the Metasploit hacking toolkit: FUZZBUNCH.

As it happened in the middle of past year, the well-known group of hackers Shadow Brokers are carrying out a series of operations since the last few days. The releases are published with odd and misspelled blog posts, and recent posts have been critical of the Trump administration.

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