Snowden: Auction of stolen NSA malware likely political

Russia may be sending a warning to U.S. to back off on blaming it for the DNC hack

A public auction of stolen NSA malware may be a warning to the U.S. that blaming Russia for the hack of the Democratic National Committee could have dire consequences, says Edward Snowden, who also famously breached NSA security.

In a series of tweets, Snowden spelled out his interpretation of what’s behind the auction of hacking tools allegedly stolen from the NSA, and he concludes that Russia is trying to demonstrate it has ammunition to strike back if the U.S. exacts penalties for the DNC breach.

“This leak looks like a somebody sending a message that an escalation in the attribution game could get messy fast,” Snowden tweeted. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove U.S. responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server.”

In his tweets Snowden says it looks like someone has hacked an NSA staging server from which it launched attacks, and that’s not such a big deal. “NSA malware staging servers getting hacked by a rival is not new,” he says.

But what is new is that whoever stole it is publicizing it. “This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove U.S. responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server,” Snowden writes. “That could have significant foreign policy consequences. Particularly if any of those operations targeted U.S. allies. Particularly if any of those operations targeted elections.”

So the U.S. might be forced to buffer its response to the alleged Russian hack of the DNC or else Russia will expose attacks that the NSA made against other countries.

Snowden says that whoever had hacked the NSA server lost access to it in June 2013 and notes that was when the NSA documents he stole were published. He speculates the NSA might have switched to a different server as a security precaution in reaction to his leak. “You're welcome, @NSAGov. Lots of love,” he tweets.

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