The U.S. government has always been able to access financial data through SWIFT as part of an anti-terrorism effort.
TheShadowBrokers, which startled the security experts previous year by releasing some of the NSA's hacking tools, has resumed pouring secrets into the public domain, this time by publishing purported details of the NSA's operations against banks across the Arab world. However, SWIFT and EastNets told reporters that there has been no unauthorized access so far on its networks. However, the firm did concede to the possibility that the local messaging system of some of its clients could have been breached.
Hackers compromised the system in March 2016 - stealing the computer credentials of a SWIFT operator in Bangladesh -to send messages to the Federal Reserve Bank of NY that resulted in the theft of $81 million from the Bangladesh central bank.
The documents released by the Shadow Brokers on Friday indicate that the NSA may have accessed the SWIFT network through service bureaus. This is a Dubai-based anti-money laundering company that is working with SWIFT, the financial banking network.
Matthew Hickey, the co-founder and director of the cybersecurity company Hacker House spelled out his take on the severity of the dump: "In about an hour or so any attacker can download simple toolkit to hack into Microsoft based computers around the globe".
"That's information you can only get if you compromise the system", he said.
"SWIFT is a financial backbone of the world". Unknown to members of the information security community all through the day, Microsoft (msft) had quietly patched the majority of the Windows flaws in a security update last month, preventing the NSA-crafted espionage tools from being abused by opportunistic attackers after their leak. It is how banking institutions transfer and send money between each other.
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On April 8, the group published a batch of NSA exploits it had previously tried, and failed, to sell.
"I'll bet it's not the only SWIFT service bureau that's been compromised", he said. Documents included in the leak suggest at least one major bureau, EastNets, may have been compromised.
However, EastNets called reports that it had been hacked "totally false and unfounded". The EastNets Network internal Security Unit has run a complete check of its servers and found no hacker compromise or any vulnerabilities.
Friday's release-which came as much of the computing world was planning a long weekend to observe the Easter holiday-contains close to 300 megabytes of materials the leakers said were stolen from the NSA.
The agency monitored the system to spot payments meant to finance crimes, according to the documents released by Snowden. SWIFT transfers trillions of dollars everyday.
Some of the documents released by the Shadow Brokers were dated 2013, but others were not dated. Last summer the group auctioned off a number of NSA exploits. Microsoft itself seems to imply that the NSA didn't warn the company.