The NSA is notorious for spying on citizens without their knowledge or consent. The agency has some of the most sophisticated surveillance tools known to man and it’s not shy about using them. However, even the NSA has its vulnerabilities and hackers are always quick to find and exploit them. Last year, hackers managed to lay their hands on the agency’s surveillance tool known as Eternal Blue and now, the very same tools made to protect the citizens are being used against them. According to a new research, hackers are using Eternal Blue to attack innocent citizens and use their computers to mine cryptocurrencies.
The NSA Powered Attacks
For many, being spied on by the NSA is something they have made peace with. After all, the spying is for your own protection, right? It turns out that this is not always the case. According to a research conducted by the Cyber Threat Alliance, some of the spying tools have landed in the wrong hands and they are being misused.
The research reveals that cybercriminals have been using vulnerabilities exposed by Eternal Blue to hack into computers all over the world. Eternal Blue exploited vulnerabilities in outdated Microsoft Systems software to infiltrate computers. This vulnerability was previously unknown by hackers but has since then become a favorite.
The research further revealed that cryptojacking cases have gone up by 459 percent this year, with the increase being attributed to the tool. Monero is the most illegally mined cryptocurrency, accounting for 85 percent of the reported cases with Bitcoin coming in at a distant second with 8 percent. Monero is preferred because it’s one of the most private cryptos and as it’s quite easy to mine compared to most of the other cryptos.
As the tools exploits vulnerabilities in outdated Microsoft software, users can protect themselves by applying a security update that was released in March last year, an executive at Microsoft told Bloomberg. A majority of the attacks have targeted U.S users, the report further revealed. The attackers are not expected to slow down any time soon, with the threat being to both individual as well as institutional users.
Eternal Blue was stolen from the NSA last year in what is its worst breach to date. The tool fell into the hands of a group of hackers known as the Shadow Brokers who have exploited it to attack a diverse selection of targets the world over. The targets have ranged from hospitals in Indonesia, manufacturing plants in Britain to oil mines in Brazil.
The report comes just days after another report by the Economic Times revealed that Indian government websites are a favorite with cryptojackers. The report singled out three of the most popular websites which combined bring in more than 160,000 visitors a month, making them a prime hunting ground for cryptojackers.
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