The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Shadow Brokers

Like most failures in the previous presidency, the massive hack perpetrated by the "Shadow Brokers" on our most secretive and advanced intelligence agencies has, until recently, gone widely unreported by the media. The New York Times, to its credit, reports on what may be the most significant intelligence failure in the history of the United States—the theft via hacking of the secret computer software that is used for our most advanced cyberwarfare weapons.

This hack wasn't just a leak of our intelligence programs or even the names of operatives (a la Edward Snowdon). It was the theft of the weapons themselves—equivalent to the theft of physical weapons systems and their armaments. And unlike physical weapon, cyberwarfare software can be cloned and distributed worldwide to criminals,
terrorists and our nation state adversaries.

This cyberweapon software is already in the hands of bad actors including North Korea and Iran and is being used against us. The reporters for the NYT write:
Millions of people saw their computers shut down by ransomware, with demands for payments in digital currency to have their access restored. Tens of thousands of employees at Mondelez International, the maker of Oreo cookies, had their data completely wiped. FedEx reported that an attack on a European subsidiary had halted deliveries and cost $300 million. Hospitals in Pennsylvania, Britain and Indonesia had to turn away patients. The attacks disrupted production at a car plant in France, an oil company in Brazil and a chocolate factory in Tasmania, among thousands of enterprises affected worldwide.

American officials had to explain to close allies — and to business leaders in the United States — how cyberweapons developed at Fort Meade in Maryland came to be used against them. Experts believe more attacks using the stolen N.S.A. tools are all but certain.

Inside the agency’s Maryland headquarters and its campuses around the country, N.S.A. employees have been subjected to polygraphs and suspended from their jobs in a hunt for turncoats allied with the Shadow Brokers. Much of the agency’s arsenal is still being replaced, curtailing operations. Morale has plunged, and experienced specialists are leaving the agency for better-paying jobs — including with firms defending computer networks from intrusions that use the N.S.A.’s leaked tools.

“It’s a disaster on multiple levels,” Mr. Williams said. “It’s embarrassing that the people responsible for this have not been brought to justice.”
Characterizing this as a "disaster" is an understatement.

It is difficult to understand how one of the most advanced cyberwarfare organizations on the planet, the NSA, left itself vulnerable to the hack. Was it the work of enemy agents or disaffected employees inside the agency, sloppy security measures that should have protected access to the source code, poor leadership, laziness, or a combination of all four? As yet, know one knows.

The same "deep state" intelligence agencies that went to war against Donald Trump (and whom Trump correctly called out for their sloppy work) now look like incompetent fools. In this case, at least, the "deep state" is not protecting our country, rather it seems to be putting it into jeopardy.