The National Security Agency (NSA) has been deeply infiltrated by a group of anonymous hackers, according to the New York Times.
The NSA is the largest intelligence agency in the United States and holds a massive amount of personal data on US citizens. The organization also organizes cyber offensives against US enemies, Business Insider reports.
But a group known as the Shadow Brokers hacked into the NSA last year obtaining hacking tools the US uses to spy on other countries.
The Shadow Brokers also hacked tens of thousands of employees at Mondelez International, the maker of Oreo cookies, wiping out their data, the Times reports. And FedEx reported an attack on a European branch that stopped deliveries and cost the company $300 million.
The group is now posting cryptic messages about the NSA while selling cyber weapons to all buyers, including North Korea and Russia.
“It’s a disaster on multiple levels,” Jake Williams, a cybersecurity expert who formerly worked on the NSA’s hacking group, told the Times. “It’s embarrassing that the people responsible for this have not been brought to justice.”
“These leaks have been incredibly damaging to our intelligence and cybercapabilities,” former CIA director Leon Panetta told the Times.
“The fundamental purpose of intelligence is to be able to effectively penetrate our adversaries in order to gather vital intelligence. By its very nature, that only works if secrecy is maintained and our codes are protected,” he said.
Panetta said the NSA essentially has to start over on cyber initiatives.