Thanks to the Shadow Brokers, any hacker can now easily attack and pwn millions of Windows computers on the internet.
On Friday, the group known as The Shadow Brokers dropped the hacking equivalent of a bomb, or perhaps several bombs, giving hackers all over the world the tools to easily break into millions of Windows computers.
"This is internet god mode for Microsoft computers," a security researcher that goes by the handle Hacker Fantastic, told in an online chat. After weeks of silence, The Shadow Brokers came back last Saturday to drop a long-awaited set of files that turned out to be just underwhelming, old Linux hacking tools. But today, the group released what's probably its most explosive — and damaging — dump yet: a collection of several alleged NSA hacking tools for Microsoft Windows systems, likely including multiple unknown exploits, or zero-days.
This is bad news not just for the NSA, but for the internet as a whole, according to security researchers who are poring through the dump. As someone called it, this is "cyber chaos."
Perhaps the worst tool released by the hackers is called "FUZZBUNCH." This is a hacking suite or toolkit that contains several plug-and-play exploits to attack several versions of Windows operating system. Some researchers described it as something akin to Metasploit, a popular open source hacking framework.
"This FUZZBUNCH framework contains the closest thing to a cyber weapon since Stuxnet," Hacker Fantastic said. "It is packed full of exploits. It's Metasploit but with zero-days."
In fact, the latest Shadow Brokers dump contains several working Windows zero-days in executable (.exe) binaries with "step-by-step logs laying out how they're used and the commands to run," according to Ashkan Soltani, an independent security researcher.
That means that pretty much anyone, from low-level cybercriminals to so-called "script kiddies"—hackers who are only good at reusing other hackers' tools—could repurpose them to attack Windows computers.
"I think if you were motivated, you yourself could run some of these," joked Soltani, who previously worked at the FTC as their chief technology officer. In other words, right now, millions of computers could be in danger. And they will be hackable until Microsoft releases patches, which could perhaps take weeks or months.
"It's not safe to run an internet facing Windows box right now," said a hacker who used to work in the US Department of Defense. In the meantime, you can either shut down your Windows machine or block incoming connections to port 445 and 139 with the firewall to prevent some of the attacks, according to security researchers.
The leaked tools are dated around 2013, so they don't affect modern Windows operating systems such as Windows 10. But according to Hacker Fantastic, the FUZZBUNCH framework supports all kinds of Windows systems: server versions from NT, 2000, 2003, 2008 and up to 2012, as well as the consumer versions XP, Vista, 7 and Windows 8. A Microsoft spokesperson said that the company is "reviewing the report and will take the necessary actions to protect our customers."
More worryingly, according to Hacker Fantastic and other researchers, some of these exploits could be repurposed to even launch a worm, or a virus that spreads itself. Some researchers, who are still analyzing the tools and the ramifications of the leak, even mentioned it could be possible to make a "Conficker 2.0," referring to one of the worst Windows viruses of all time.
Security researchers explained that all these tools can be used as is, so it's plausible to expect that next week we will see several hacks on email servers, website defacements, or even an uptick in ransomware, the pervasive malware that locks computers and demands a payment in Bitcoin to unlock it. For the hacker who used to work at the Department of Defense "this is the worst thing since Snowden."
Microsoft has patched the majority of the exploits released by The Shadow Brokers. More details can be found here, and the company recommends updating to a supported version of Windows and downloading security fixes.
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