Microsoft says users are protected from alleged NSA malware

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The US National Security Agency has compromised users of a major global money-transfer system used by some financial institutions and banks in the Middle East and Latin America, a group of hackers says.

Say what you want about Microsoft, but the company stays on top of security.

The "Shadow Brokers" is a group of anonymous hackers that published hacking tools used by the NSA a year ago. 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.

The dump of Windows exploits, that was likely to cause the most damage and embarrassment to the intelligence agency had been expected since the hacking group first emerged on the scene past year. When the Shadow Brokers recognized that the exploits were no longer valuable zerodays, they published them in a campaign created to sow confusion. In a statement, the tech giant said it had not been contacted by the NSA about the breach.

NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden even chimed in on the claims that EastNet weren't compromised, with the official Twitter page to EastNet responding to the situation tweeting "No credibility to the online claim of a compromise of EastNets customer information on its SWIFT service bureau".

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

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He told the Associated Press news agency that he had 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 organisation".

SWIFT said it had no evidence that the main SWIFT network had ever been accessed without authorisation.

"We now have all of the tools the NSA used to compromise SWIFT (via) Cisco firewalls, Windows", Suiche said.

Calls and messages left with EastNets' offices in Dubai, London and NY were either not picked up or not immediately returned. Instead of sticking its head in the sand (as critics often accuse the intelligence community of doing), the spy set appears to have worked with the tech sector, taking proactive measures to defuse the situation before it could get out of hand.

The exploits, published by the Shadow Brokers on Friday, contain vulnerabilities in Windows computers and servers.

Matthew Hickey, director of security firm Hacker House, has looked over the leaks and agrees with Microsoft's assessment.

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"It's an absolute disaster", he told the Associated Press.

The tools appear legitimate, he said, and at least one of the zero-day exploits in the release still works against Windows Server 2013. According to the blog, some of the security flaws the NSA tools took advantage were not patched until March. It declined to elaborate.

Fairfax was not able to verify the authenticity of the files - and the NSA has not commented on the leak. Swift service bureaus are companies that provide an access point to the Swift system for the network's smaller clients and may send or receive messages regarding money transfers on their behalf. The response, in a word, is heartening.

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