An apparent hacking group calling itself the "Shadow Brokers" claims to have hacked the NSA and is asking for about $570 million to share the data. Two sets of files were posted online Saturday—one open, the other encrypted—which the group claims are from the Equation Group, an advanced group of hackers believed to be working with US intelligence. The open files contain "a series of tools for penetrating network gear made by Cisco, Juniper, and other major firms," along with code words found in documents leaked by Edward Snowden, reports Foreign Policy. They are "most likely … part of the NSA toolset," an expert tells Ars Technica. But the encrypted files are "the best files," says the Shadow Brokers, which is asking for 1 million Bitcoin, currently worth about $570 million, to release them.
"We hack Equation Group. We find many many Equation Group cyber weapons," the Shadow Brokers writes in a manifesto. In a message directed to "wealthy elites," the group warns about the danger of cyber weapons, noting "your wealth and control depends on electronic data." The NSA hasn't confirmed any breach, but security researchers say the open files—dating from about 2010 to 2013—look authentic. "It's at minimum very interesting; at maximum, hugely damaging," says a former NSA research scientist. "It'll blow some operations if those haven't already been blown." Another expert tells Motherboard that the files could be from "a hacked NSA server used in an operation." Others suspect Russia is involved, given the reported source of the recent DNC hack. (Read more NSA stories.)