NSA's powerful Windows hacking tools leaked online

An anonymous hacking group "Shadow Brokers" that leaked online a collection of powerful hacking tools allegedly used by the US National Security Agency (NSA) has also published another set of documents that indicate that NSA penetrated the SWIFT banking network in the Middle East.

The attacks and new hacking tactics underscore the continuing vulnerability of the SWIFT messaging network, which handles trillions of dollars in fund transfers daily. One hacking tool, called "FuzzBunch", appears to affect Windows 8, Windows 7 and Windows Vista, as well as Windows Server 2000 though Windows Server 2012, according to the story.

However EastNets, which is based in Dubai, denied it had been hacked in a statement, and said the assertion was "totally false and unfounded".

Quoting its CEO and founder Hazem Mulhim, EastNets added: "While we cannot ascertain the information that has been published, we can confirm that no EastNets customer data has been compromised in anyway".

SWIFT said it regularly releases security updates and instructs client banks on how to handle known threats. It operates as a messaging system for such things as letters of credit, payments and securities transactions between banks.

Hackers compromised the system in March 2016 - stealing the computer credentials of a SWIFT operator in Bangladesh -to send messages to the Federal Reserve Bank of NY that resulted in the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.

The April 14 "Lost in Translation" leak implies that the NSA's elite Equation Group hacking unit had extensive zero-day exploits and other tools to infiltrate Windows systems and that the agency was inside banking systems, particularly in the Middle East. When the Shadow Brokers recognized that the exploits were no longer valuable zerodays, they published them in a campaign created to sow confusion.

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"There is no impact on SWIFT's infrastructure or data, however we understand that communications between these service bureaus and their customers may previously have been accessed by unauthorized third parties". Mr. Hickey was able to replicate the exploits in his United Kingdom firm's lab and confirmed the authenticity of the leaked spy tools.

In a statement, EastNets said there was "no credibility" to the allegation that its customers' details had been stolen.

The hacked tools alarmed famous U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden, who first uncovered the extent of NSA's illegal spying in 2013. The SWIFT network is the way in which money moves between these financial institutions.

Cisco and the NSA did not reply to requests for comment.

Some of the documents released by the Shadow Brokers were dated 2013, but others were not dated.

Shadow Brokers first surfaced past year offering for sale a suite of hacking tools from the NSA. The releases are published with unusual and misspelled blog posts, and recent posts have been critical of the Trump administration. Luckily, when it comes to the recently leaked Windows exploits, Microsoft was already prepared - now supported versions of the operating system are not impacted.

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