Monday, August 15, 2016

'Nothing Adds Up', Mysterious Group Hacks The NSA

"Nothing Adds Up"

There’s a new feature to the Anything-Goes-and-Nothing-Matters economy: Nothing-Adds-Up. The magicians who pretend to measure the growth of GDP (Gross Domestic Product - the monetary value of all the finished goods and services) came up with a second quarter “adjusted” figure of 1.2 percent. That would have to be construed by anyone acquainted with basic econ stats as perfectly dismal. And yet the Bureau of Labor Statistics put out a sparkly Nonfarm Payroll Report of 255,000 for July, way above the forecast 180,000.

There were so many ways to game the jobs number — between people forced to work more than one shit job and the notorious “birth/death model” used to just make up any old number for political purposes — that no one can take this information seriously. Anyway, the GDP number was instantly forgotten and the jobs number launched the stock markets to previously uncharted record altitude.

Even for one allergic to conspiracy theories, it’s not farfetched to imagine a coordinated effort by central banks — under government direction — to generate Money-Out-Of-Thin-Air (QE) for the purpose of allowing “liquidity” flows to end up in US equity and bond markets in order to paint a false picture of “recovery” so as to insure the election of Hillary Clinton. I think that is exactly behind the recent money-printing activities by the Japanese and European Central Banks, and the Bank of England.
Why would it end up in US markets? For bonds, because the Euro and Japanese bond sovereign yields are in sub-zero territory and the BOE just cut its prime rate lower than the US Federal Reserve’s prime rate; and for stocks, because the value of the other three currencies is sliding down and the dollar has been rising — so, dump your falling currency for the rising dollar and jam it into rising US stocks. It’ll work until it doesn’t.

Why do this for Hillary? Because she represents the continuity of all the current rackets being used to prop up belief in the foundering business model of western civilization. If she doesn’t get into the White House there may be no backstopping of the insolvent banks and bankrupt governments and a TILT message will appear in the sky. 
That TILT message is likely to appear anyway because, remember,  the authorities are only pretending that they can manage events. In fact, all of their “management” strategies and shenanigans only insure the further distortion of the basic operating system, which is already so far out of whack from twenty years of previous management efforts that nothing in banking and markets really works anymore.

Companies don’t make money, despite rising share prices. No one in his right mind buys bonds with negative yields - that promise to pay back less over time - so governments have to pretend to buy them. (In fact, they don’t so much “buy” them as simply extinguish them by playing three-card-monte with national treasuries.) And, of course, the masses of people in all these nations - including the patsy USA - sink ever deeper into penury every month.

The release of tension is being felt in the ground game of politics where outsider candidates here and abroad are rising on a tide of rage and resentment. The fecklessness and stupidity of the elites has been epic, sacrificing everything to maintain the illusion of normality. Nothing is normal and “the people” are finally onto it. Sadly, it looks as if both politics and finance are veering toward crack-up simultaneously.

The daisy-chained Too-Big-To-Fail banks are already choking on the suicide bolus of derivatives.

The equity markets are one algo accident away from cratering.

The bond markets are a sick joke.

And Hillary may win the booby prize of presiding over the smoldering wreckage of it all.

When it happens, she will have no idea what to do.

The latest hack revealed over the weekend has nothing to do with the Democratic Party or George Soros, and instead a mysterious hacker group by the name “The Shadow Brokers” claims to have hacked the Equation Group - a government cyberattack hacking group associated with the NSA, and released a bunch of the organization's hacking tools. The hackers are also asking for 1 million bitcoin (around $568 million) in an auction to release more files. 
“Attention government sponsors of cyber warfare and those who profit from it!!!!” the hackers wrote in a manifesto posted on Pastebin, on GitHub, and on a dedicated Tumblr.

How much you pay for enemies cyber weapons? Not malware you find in networks. Both sides, RAT + LP, full state sponsor tool set? We find cyber weapons made by creators of stuxnet, duqu, flame. Kaspersky calls Equation Group. We follow Equation Group traffic. We find Equation Group source range. We hack Equation Group. We find many many Equation Group cyber weapons. You see pictures. We give you some Equation Group files free, you see. This is good proof no? You enjoy!!! You break many things. You find many intrusions. You write many words. But not all, we are auction the best files.

In February 2015, Ars Technical dubbed The Equation Group "the most advanced hacking operation ever uncovered." According to Kasperky, the "Equation Group" is a threat actor that surpasses anything known in terms of complexity and sophistication of techniques, and that has been active for almost two decades."  While Kaspersky Lab stopped short of saying it’s the NSA, its researchers laid out extensive evidence pointing to the American spy agency, including a long series of codenames used by the Equation Group and found in top secret NSA documents released by Edward Snowden. The Equation Group, according to Kaspersky Lab, targeted the same victims as the group behind Stuxnet, which is widely believed to have been a joint US-Israeli operation targeting Iran’s nuclear program, and also used two of the same zero-day exploits.

It is this secretive hacker collective that the "Shadow Brokers" claimed to have hacked, and allegely stole some of its hacking tools. They publicized the dump on Saturday, tweeting a link to the manifesto to a series of media companies.
According to Motherboard, the dumped files mostly contain installation scripts, configurations for command and control servers, and exploits targeted to specific routers and firewalls. The names of some of the tools correspond with names used in Snowden documents, such as “BANANAGLEE” or “EPICBANANA.” The hackers have released 60% of the files they claimed to have taken from the Equation Group. The Shadow Brokers said they would release the remaining data to the highest bidder in a Bitcoin auction (they’ve received three bids so far). If they received an extraordinary 1,000,000 Bitcoins, worth roughly $560 million, they would release all the files.
The Shadow Broker claimed to have gotten the files by following Equation Group “traffic,” hacking the group and finding its “cyber weapons.” (The hackers did not respond to a request for comment, and neither did the NSA.) 
As Motherboard concludes, while the motives behind this dump are unclear, if legitimate, this could be one of the most shocking hacks ever.
As of Monday afternoon, the Bitcoin wallet where the hackers accept auction offers has received three offers so far; it has a long way to go to reach 1 million. If this hack is confirmed to be indeed of an NSA-related organization, we assume much more leaks will follow, even if the payment will ultimately take place behind the scenes. 
As for the origins of the new "mysterious" hacker group, speculation is already rife that Russians are (again) behind it. However, as Forbes notes, whatever the alleged hack’s origins, the NSA does have something to worry about: Someone is out to embarrass the agency and might have the tools to do just that at a particularly heated time in US politics. The agency should, of course, have a response plan. Snowden managed what the Shadow Brokers are shooting for on a far greater scale.

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