Shadow Brokers, the hacking group that claimed to have purloined a slew of US National Security Agency (NSA) tools and exploits it found lying around on a server somewhere, has changed tack in its bid to make a small fortune from the trove of goodies.
It has started a subscription-based, monthly zero-day dump service that will commence in June, that will operate on a similar principle to the Readers' Digest book club.
However, the fee is somewhat steep: subscribers will need to stump up a monthly fee of 100 ZEC (Zcash), a virtual currency that cannot be traced like bitcoin. It equates to about £20,000 a month. The shift to Zcash comes after the group cleared out its bitcoin wallet.
Shadow Brokers just emptied their Bitcoin wallet. This is the group that leaked the stolen NSA tools to the net. https://t.co/dy9HPA17SP— Mikko Hypponen (@mikko) May 29, 2017
The group explained its use of Zcash in terms of privacy, in broken English: "Be looking it up. Zcash is making claiming bitcoin + privacy. TheShadowBrokers is not making endorsements of Zcash.
"Theoretically only party seeing payment info is theshadowbrokers and theshadowbrokers only seeing amount and encrypted memo field, no sending address," it says as it admits that it does not quite trust the service.
"If you caring about losing $20k+ euro then not being for you. Monthly dump is being for high rollers, hackers, security companies, OEMs, and governments. Playing 'the game' is involving risks. Zcash is having connections to USG [US government] (DARPA, DOD, John Hopkins) and Israel.
"Why USG is 'sponsoring' privacy version of bitcoin? Who the fuck is knowing? In defense, TOR is originally being by similar parties. TheShadowBrokers not fully trusting TOR either."
It is all very compelling, after all, who would not be convinced by such well-written marketing material? And who hasn't got €20,000 to fling at such a service?
Anyone that does could find themselves getting a monthly dose of some of the finest vulnerabilities out there. The Shadow Brokers are the source of the NSA-leaked tools that crippled the NHS and made us all want to cry. Well, technically the NSA is the source of those vulnerabilities.
The Shadow Brokers are said to be linked to the secret services of a non-Western power, which might make a subscription to its services an unwise corporate investment for anyone except a security software and services outfit.
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