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Former NSA Director: Malware Attack 'Poses a Very Serious Threat to the Future of the Agency'

A West Point cadet participates in an exercise defending a computer network against a cyberattack. (West Point / CC 2.0)

A West Point cadet participates in an exercise defending a computer network against a cyberattack. (West Point / CC 2.0)

Last week, at least 74 countries were hit by a cyberattack that crippled hospitals and stalled important technology around the world. The malware, which was released by a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers, was originally created by the National Security Agency. In the days since the global cyberattack, the agency has faced rising criticism for its failure to protect the malware against theft — and for creating it in the first place.

Michael V. Hayden, director of the National Security Agency from 1999 to 2005, was once a staunch supporter of the agency, but he believes that the cyberattack “poses a very serious threat to the future of the agency.”

“I cannot defend an agency having powerful tools if it cannot protect the tools and keep them in its own hands,” Hayden told The New York Times.

Unfortunately, the Shadow Brokers plans to continue leaking NSA-created malware. The Times continues:

The latest nightmare for the agency, which is responsible for eavesdropping, code breaking and cyberespionage, appears to be far from over. Early Tuesday, a post purportedly from the Shadow Brokers announced that it was starting a sort of hack-of-the-month club.

“TheShadowBrokers is launching new monthly subscription model,” said the post, in the faux broken English that the group has repeatedly used in public statements. “Is being like wine of month club. Each month peoples can be paying membership fee, then getting members only data dump each month. What members doing with data after is up to members.”

The mocking tone — the post’s title, “OH LORDY! Comey Wanna Cry Edition,” referred to President Trump’s firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, and the ransomware known as WannaCry — could not disguise the deadly serious nature of the threat. Software experts said that the group’s dump of N.S.A. tools in April included additional exploits that are “wormable” — meaning they could spread rapidly, like the ransomware attack — and that it might well have more N.S.A. malware it has not yet released.

Another national security expert and former top Pentagon official, Michael Sulmeyer, echoed Hayden’s fears about the Shadow Brokers “disaster.”

“Ten years ago, the costs were fairly low for things going wrong at N.S.A.,” he told the Times. “Now, there’s a risk for public safety.”

Read the full New York Times report here.

—Posted by Emma Niles

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