Shadow Brokers: Microsoft Windows flaws were already patched

NSA data

US spy agency the NSA allegedly had the tools to hack into interbank messaging system SWIFT via third party providers, according to documents released by hacking group Shadow Brokers last Friday.

SWIFT has since said there is no evidence suggesting its core messaging services or network have been compromised after Reuters reported that the Shadow Group documents indicated that the NSA had accessed SWIFT through service providers (service bureaux) that offer access to the system in the Middle East and Latin America.

In a media FAQ, the organisation said: "SWIFT is in close contact with the service bureaux concerned to verify that they are aware of the allegations and have appropriate preventative measures in place." The Belgium-based organisation allows over 200 organisations to send messages about financial transactions to each other and sends payment orders between institutions' accounts.

The tools were linked to vulnerabilities discovered in versions of Microsoft's Windows operating system. Cybersecurity expert Matt Suiche, of Comae Technologies, detailed in a blog post that "Windows Vista/2008 is out of support since Monday [12 April], and Windows XP/2003 has been unsupported for more than [three] years. This means that security vulnerabilities found on those systems will never be corrected."

However, Microsoft said in a security update that all but three of the published exploits had already been patched. Those three, 'EnglishmanDentist', 'EsteemAudit', and 'ExplodingCan', don't work on Windows operating systems that are still in support. But Microsoft has not announced how it learned of the vulnerabilities, though it usually gives credit to those who find bugs.

SWIFT said: "The allegations suggest there may have been attempts to gain unauthorised access to data at two service bureaux. The exploits do not target SWIFT's infrastructure or data. There is no impact on SWIFT's infrastructure or data, and there is no evidence to suggest that there has been any unauthorised access to SWIFT's network or messaging services.

"Customers should pay close attention their own security and take security into consideration when selecting a service bureau and working with other third party providers."

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.