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Will Wikileaks release a significant augmentation to the Equation Group cyberespionage archive?


Sometimes, events in real life appear to have been cribbed from the scripts of Hollywood thrillers.

On August 16th, the New York Times, along with a number of other news outlets, reported on the release, by an entity referring to itself as the Shadow Brokers, of a 256 Mb compressed archive containing roughly 4,000 files of various types.

According to this security response post from Symantec, the archive contains installation scripts, configuration files and exploits targeting a range of routers and firewall tools. The leaked files have been linked to a sophisticated actor known as the Equation Group, which itself appears, according to experts, to be associated with the U.S. National Security Agency's highly classified Tailored Access Operations unit.

The files appear to be of considerable significance. Cisco Systems, for example, notes that the leak illuminates a high-severity "zero-day" vulnerability that had gone undetected for years in every supported version of the company's Adaptive Security Appliance firewall.

The released files appear to date from mid-2013, around the time of Edward Snowden's leak of NSA-related documents. In a somewhat cartoonish manner, the Shadow Brokers state in broken english that they are in possession of further files, whose release they claim they will grant to the winner of an apparently purposefully unsophisticated, and as-yet unsuccessful bitcoin auction:

“We hack Equation Group. We find many many Equation Group cyber weapons. You see pictures. We give you some Equation Group files free…But not all, we are auction the best files.”

A series of tweets by Edward Snowden encapsulates the widely held suspicion that the Shadow Brokers are associated with Russian state cyberespionage, and that the timing of the archive leak is related to recent hacks of internal e-mails and other files of the Democratic National Committee.

Wikileaks has entered the story, by stating that they are in possession of the full Equation Group archive, and that they intend to release the files, specifically, "a pristine copy of the files in due course"

Will Wikileaks release a material augmentation to the leaked Equation Group files on or before September 1, 2016? In order to resolve in the positive, the release must be reported in either the New York Times or the Washington Post, and the reporting article(s) must quote experts (either with or without attribution) attesting to the significance of any additional files.


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