Get ready for 1000% of your daily dose of Irony: America’s top surveillance outfit, the National Security Agency appears to have been hacked, according to announcements made by a group known as the “Shadow Brokers” and backed by a sample of data released as proof. Not only that, it may have happened as early as 2013, just days after NSA whistleblower Snowden went public. The spy agency has yet to comment on the matter, though given their usual taciturn stance on sharing information with the public, further enlightenment is unlikely to come from that source. Snowden himself weighed in on the issue shortly after this news became public, attributing the original hack as likely being the Russian government. In a further dose of irony, Snowden currently resides in Russia, presumably as part American exile and part Russian political trophy.
What this means for you:
Before you grab your bug-out bag and head for your internet-proof bunker, make sure you freak out for the right reasons. In this particular instance, the data for sale appears to be code, and not data on Americans (which they are assuredly collecting). Offered as proof of the deed, the Shadow Brokers posted source code of known malware apps the NSA is alleged (by Snowden and others) to have used to break firewalls and other security platforms in use by foreign nations, presumably to allow the install of other covert surveillance software on the computers behind those security measures. Security pundits, including industry vet Bruce Scheier, have evaluated the data released, and in light of the the current political climate between the US and Russia, are of the opinion that this might be a manuever by the Russian government in anticipation of criticism or accusations from the US about the DNC hacks. To put it in more understandable terms, we may be seeing the opening salvos in a new, thoroughly modern Cold War. Instead of warheads and undercover spies as pawns, this one may be waged via the internet through cyber warfare and social media. Ready to head to that bunker yet?