A history-making whistleblower, who currently speaks to America only through digital video or robots, used Twitter today to explain that the National Security Agency has been hacked. The target is the Equation Group, a shadowy entity that supposedly hurls malware and hacks at America’s enemies.
The files posted over the weekend include two sets of files. The hackers have made one set available for free. The other remains encrypted and is the subject of an online auction, payable in bitcoin, the cryptocurrency. That set includes, according to the so-called Shadow Brokers, “the best files.” If they receive at least 1 million bitcoin — the equivalent of at least $550 million — they will post more documents and make them available for free.
The Shadow Brokers explain themselves as global insurgents, targeting the rich and powerful elite. Very 2016:
The group delivered a message to what it called “wealthy elites” and assailed the integrity of elections. “Elites is making laws protect self and friends, lie and fuck other peoples,” they wrote in idiosyncratic English. “Then Elites runs for president. Why run for president when already control country like dictatorship?”
“We want make sure Wealthy Elite recognizes the danger cyber weapons, this message, our auction, poses to their wealth and control. Let us spell out for Elites,” the group added. “Your wealth and control depends on electronic data.”
Some days it just feels like we’re living in the 21st century dreamed up by science fiction.
The Shadow Broker is an individual at the head of an expansive organization which trades in information, always selling to the highest bidder. The Shadow Broker appears to be highly competent at its trade: all secrets that are bought and sold never allow one customer of the Broker to gain a significant advantage, forcing the customers to continue trading information to avoid becoming disadvantaged, allowing the Broker to remain in business.