NSA penetrated Mideast banking networks, according to a new leak

New leak suggests that  the U.S. National Security Agency has burrowed deep into the Middle East's financial network
New leak suggests that the U.S. National Security Agency has burrowed deep into the Middle East’s financial network
A new set of documents purportedly lifted from the U.S. National Security Agency suggests that American spies have burrowed deep into the Middle East’s financial network, apparently compromising the Dubai office of the anti-money laundering and financial services firm EastNets. The company said Friday the documents were dated and denied that any customer data had been affected.

TheShadowBrokers, which startled the security experts last year by releasing some of the NSA’s hacking tools, has recently resumed pouring secrets into the public domain. In a first for TheShadowBrokers, the data include PowerPoint slides and purported target lists, suggesting the group has access to a broader range of information than previously known.

“This is by far the most brutal dump,” said Comae Technologies founder Matt Suiche, who has closely followed the group’s disclosures and initially helped confirm its connection to the NSA last year. In a blog post , he said it appeared that thousands of employee accounts and machines from EastNets’ offices had been compromised and that financial institutions in Kuwait, Bahrain and the Palestinian territories had been targeted for espionage.

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

The company, which acts as a “service bureau” connecting customers to the financial world’s electronic backbone, SWIFT, said the ShadowBrokers documents referred to a “low-level internal server” that had since been retired and that a “complete check” of its systems had turned up no evidence of any compromise.

The denial drew skepticism from those who’d reviewed the files.

“Eastnets’ claim is impossible to believe,” said Kevin Beaumont, who was one of several experts who spent Friday combing through the documents and trying out the code. He said he’d found password dumps, an Excel spreadsheet outlining the internal architecture of the company’s server and one file that was “just a massive log of hacking on their organization.”

SWIFT, based in Belgium, released a less categorical statement, saying, “we understand that communications between these service bureaus and their customers may previously have been accessed by unauthorized third parties.” It said there was no evidence its own network had been compromised.

Repeated messages seeking clarification from EastNets went unreturned.

Beaumont said there was bad news in the release for Microsoft as well. He said the malicious code published Friday appeared to exploit previously undiscovered weaknesses in older versions of its Windows operating system – the mark of a sophisticated actor and a potential worry for many of Windows’ hundreds of millions of users.

The opinion was seconded by Matthew Hickey of Prestbury, England-based cybersecurity company Hacker House.

“It’s an absolute disaster,” Hickey said in an email. “I have been able to hack pretty much every Windows version here in my lab using this leak.”

Microsoft said in a statement that it is reviewing the leak and “will take the necessary actions to protect our customers.” It declined to elaborate.

The NSA, which did not respond to emails, has previously shown interest in targeting SWIFT, according to documents leaked by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, and Suiche said other documents in the release suggested an effort to monitor the world’s financial transactions that went beyond EastNets.

“I’ll bet it’s not the only SWIFT service bureau that’s been compromised,” he said.

The Associated Press

  • HebAlba

    “John McCain was quite eloquent about his willingness to fight to preserve western dominance: “We…cannot allow ourselves to question the rightness and goodness of the West…I refuse to accept the end of the West. I refuse to accept the demise of our world order…I refuse to accept that our values are morally equivalent to those of our adversaries. I am a proud, unapologetic believer in the West.”

    One is tempted to ask: which West do you have in mind, Senator McCain? The one that unleashed Nazi Germany unto the world? The one that vaporized civilians in Dresden, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki? The one that, turned Cambodia into Zombistan, bombed and dismantled Yugoslavia, wreaked havoc in Iraq and Syria and condoned neo-Nazis in Ukraine and Al Qaeda in the Middle East?”
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/dd968fa6252b8837b8a792174ef83fe67746c02d74f5e501dd845667f1ae1837.jpg
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c0646a528c396a973be7bc7e6d3472281b0c5ad43569fd843d070b35663b9076.jpg

  • HebAlba

    What US Congress Researchers Reveal About Washington’s Designs on Syria

    Seeing the government in Damascus as too far to the left, Washington has been trying to orchestrate a regime change in Syria since at least 2003

    February 9, 2016

    “The 2003 US-led aggression against Iraq was an international crime on a colossal scale, based on an illegitimate casus belli, and a fabricated one at that, and which engendered massive destruction and loss of life.

    It was the supreme international crimes by the standards of the Nuremberg trials. Applying the Nuremberg principles, the perpetrators would be hanged. US aggression against Iraq, including the deployment of “sanctions of mass destruction” through the 1990s, which led to hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths, and was blithely accepted by then US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright as “worth it,” was undertaken despite the absence of any threat to the United States.

    The deliberate creation of humanitarian calamities in the absence of a threat, as a matter of choice and not necessity, in pursuit of economic gain, is an iniquity on a signal scale. What, then, are we to think of a government in Damascus that opposed this iniquity, and a government in Washington that demands that Damascus reverse its opposition and accept the crime as legitimate?”

  • man-o-war

    Makes you wonder what else has been penetrated. Special tribunal for Lebanon comes to mind. Telecommunications networks penetrated? (Off topic)