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Privacy Advocates Cite NSA Hack as Vindication of Apple's Fight With FBI
Privacy advocates have claimed the breach of hacking tools and exploits apparently stolen from the National Security Agency has vindicated Apple's stance in its dispute with the FBI earlier this year. Last week, hackers allegedly stole a cache of the NSA's top espionage tools and offered to sell them to the highest bidder, according to multiple sources. The malware was linked to the "Equation Group", a secretive team of cyber spies widely believed to be associated with the NSA and its state partners. The hacking collective that stole the malware posted two sets of files, including a free sample of the stolen data, which dates back to 2013, and a second encrypted file whose decryption key is up for sale in a bitcoin auction. Many see the auction as a stunt. But the the attack code posted by the hackers appears to be real, according to former NSA personnel who worked in the agency's hacking division, known as Tailored Access Operations (TAO). "Without a doubt, they're the keys to the kingdom," said one former TAO employee, who spoke to The Washington Post on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive internal operations. "The stuff you're talking about would undermine the security of a lot of major government and corporate networks both here and abroad." "It's a big deal," said Dave Aitel, an ex-NSA research scientist and CEO of penetration testing firm Immunity. "We'd be panicking." Whistle-blowing website Wikileaks tweeted that it also had the data and would release it "in due course". News of the leak has been closely followed by technology companies, many of whom pushed back against the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee's attempts to force them to provide "technical assistance" to government investigators seeking locked data.
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