Hacker group Shadow Brokers released a fresh batch of alleged NSA (National Security Agency) hacking tools on Friday (14 April), which security experts said contain a whole host of exploits capable of causing widespread cyber panic. One such tool uncovered by security researchers hints at the first real connection between the NSA and the infamous Stuxnet worm, which made headlines in 2010 after it was used against Iran, in what is considered as one of the first targeted cyberespionage attacks.
Previous reports indicate that Stuxnet has long been suspected to have been developed by a collaborative effort between the NSA and Israel. Edward Snowden has also said previously that the "NSA and Israel wrote Stuxnet together." In the Shadow Brokers' latest dump, an exploit for Windows MOF files was uncovered, which Symantec security researcher Liam O'Murchu told Motherboard, uses "almost the exact same script" used in Stuxnet.
"There is a strong connection between Stuxnet and the Shadow Brokers dump," O'Murchu added. "But not enough to definitively prove a connection."
The connection is not definitive, according to O'Murchu, as the script originally discovered in Stuxnet was also added by researchers to a popular open source hacking toolkit called Metasploit. In other words, anyone using Metasploit, could potentially have created a MOF file that appears identical to the one used in Stuxnet. However, the MOF file creation tool included in the Shadow Brokers' latest NSA leaks was created on September 2009, according to O'Murchu.
This means that the exploit was developed three months after Stuxnet was first detected and "shortly before the code was added to Metasploit," O'Murchu added.
Apart from the MOF file, other researchers reportedly uncovered relatively less conspicuous connections to Suxnet, such as a tool containing the text "WON THE GOLD MEDAL." Stuxnet's codename was reportedly "Olympic Games."
Moreover, online malware repository Virus Total featured antivirus program Avast as having detected several other exploits recently dumped by the Shadow Brokers as Stuxnet. Although this could have been a false positive, Motherboard reports security researcher Joxean Koret as deeming it "too curious of a false positive".
Despite the various connections to Stuxnet reportedly uncovered by various security experts, the Shadow Brokers' latest dump does not appear to contain any definitive evidence of a conclusive connection between the NSA and the Stuxnet worm. However, who knows what future leaks may reveal?