Older Windows Systems Targeted by Newly Released Hack Tools

Files released by anonymous hacker Shadow Brokers suggested on Friday the US National Security Agency had penetrated the SWIFT banking network and monitored a number of Middle East banks.

According to several documents, the NSA used the Windows hacking tools to target several banks, including the SWIFT banking system.

EastNets is one of 74 local service bureaus worldwide certified by Swift, acting as an interface between the global network and smaller banks and financial institutions in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, EastNets Service Bureau, that provides outsourced SWIFT connectivity, on Saturday denied that its bureau was compromised and said that the reports of hack are "totally false and unfounded".

Analysts say numerous exploits revealed appear to be three years old or more, but have some unknown vulnerabilities that could still be used by other hackers. SWIFT stated that there was no indication that their main network had been accessed by unauthorized users.

Then SWIFT warned banks in an October 2016 letter, reported by Reuters here, about continued cyber attacks on the system, which have gotten even more sophisticated.

Swift was successfully targeted by hackers previous year when criminals stole $81m from the Bangladeshi central bank.

On Friday, a group calling itself the Shadow Brokers released documents and files indicating NSA had accessed the SWIFT money-transfer system through service providers in the Middle East and Latin America. That does mean that older Windows XP or Windows Vista systems could still be vulnerable to three of the exploits released, but it's unlikely that Microsoft will supply patches for these older versions of Windows as they're already unsupported.

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According to The Intercept, the Shadow Brokers' April 14 release of previously undisclosed tools has the potential to comprise Windows computers running anything earlier than Windows 10.

"I'll bet it's not the only SWIFT service bureau that's been compromised", he said.

"This is really bad, in about an hour or so any attacker can download simple toolkit to hack into Microsoft based computers around the globe", tweeted one such researcher, Hacker Fantastic, who's been pouring through the materials.

The documents and files were released by a group calling themselves the Shadow Brokers.

Microsoft says they are looking at, and working to patch, the vulnerabilities, but for obvious security reasons, they're not going into much detail about the tools.

"Maybe if all surviving WWIII, theshadowbrokers be seeing you next week", Friday's post read.

It was possible that the local messaging systems of some SWIFT client banks had been breached, SWIFT said in a statement, which did not specifically mention the NSA. In a blog post late Friday, Microsoft listed specific updates - including one released as recently as March - that protect users against the vulnerabilities.

The NSA could not immediately be reached for comment, but SWIFT said in a statement that the hacking involved only its service bureaus and not its own network.

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