05 FEB: NSA, the Shadow Brokers, and the future of cyber conflict with Adrian Sanabria

My guest today is Adrian Sanabria, co-founder of Savage Security, which was recently acquired by Threatcare, where Adrian is now the Director of Research. He’s an information security veteran, and you can follow him on Twitter (@sawaba) and learn more about him at threatcare.com.

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Show Notes

1. Who are the Shadow Brokers? What do we know about these guys?

2. There are two events in the past year that I find deeply troubling. The first is that the Shadow Brokers somehow obtained a trove of NSA hacking tools, and it was certainly a black eye for NSA. How could something like this have happened?
3. The Shadow Brokers started a subscription service and began to release these cyber tools month by month. That was last year. Have we seen any of these NSA tools in the wild, and if so, then who’s using them?
3. This second event, perhaps more concerning, is that Shadow Brokers seem to have very deep access to NSA. The New York Times published an article late last year about the group identifying a former member of NSA’s Tailored Access Operations — the most advanced NSA group that we know about. (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/12/us/nsa-shadow-brokers.html) In year previous, some sources familiar with NSA counterintelligence have said that there could be a mole at NSA feeding the Shadow Brokers information. Do you think this is as bad as it sounds, or could it be worse than it sounds?

4. As a result of all these events, morale at NSA is reportedly quite low. The organization previously referred to as No Such Agency has been ridiculed as No Security Agency. Regarding the Snowden leaks and the Shadow Brokers, and everything in between — both that we’ve heard about and haven’t — how do you think all this is actually affecting our national security?

5. Turning to a global focus, given that Russia and China are playing catch up in the cyber realm, and maybe in some regards are caught up, what’s the future of nation-state cyber conflict? What will it look like?

6. Lastly, let’s turn to this encryption battle. There have been several high profile shootings, and invariably the FBI turns to the cell phones of the shooters, and there’s some debate about whether or not the FBI can actually access these iPhones, due to that security. The FBI has come out an encouraged the idea of backdoors into these devices, which would be programmed in by companies like Apple and Google. This sound like a horrendous idea. Why is that?

Samuel Culper is a former military intelligence NCO and contract Intelligence analyst. After 39 months of deployment time to Iraq and Afghanistan, he's now the conflict and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.

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