Feeds

NSA spooks tooled up with zero-day PC security exploits from the FRENCH

Cheese-eating surrender monkeys America's 'closest ally' biz revealed in FOI dump

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The NSA bought specialist computer hacking tools and research from French security outfit Vupen, according to documents unearthed using the Freedom of Information Act.

A contract shows the American spooks paid for a year's supply of zero-day vulnerability information and the software needed to exploit those flaws to attack electronic systems.

The paperwork, obtained by government transparency and accountability site MuckRock, show that the US intelligence nerve-centre signed up to a one-year subscription to Vupen's “binary analysis and exploits service” last September.

Vupen prides itself on advanced vulnerability research as well as selling software exploits for unpatched flaws in systems - known as zero-days - to governments. Several US defence contractors and security startups, such as Endgame Systems, are also in the business of privately researching and selling information about software vulnerabilities and associated attack code.

That US government organisations may be among Vupen's customers is not a surprise. The NSA, even though it has advanced offensive cybersecurity capabilities, not least in the shape of its Tailored Access Operations cyber-espionage unit, might still find it valuable to tap into external help from commercial providers such as Vupen.

"Likely reasons for NSA subscription to Vupen's 0day exploits: know what capabilities other govs can buy, and false flag, deniable cyber-ops," writes Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union in an update to his personal Twitter account.

"There are times when US special forces use AK47s, even though they have superior guns available. Same for NSA's Vupen purchase. Deniability," he added.

Soghoian, who delivered a presentation about the exploit vulnerability marketplace at the recent Virus Bulletin conference, has previously likened the trade in software exploits to a trade in conventional weapons - think bullets, bombs and rockets. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Obama allows NSA to exploit 0-days: report
If the spooks say they need it, they get it
Putin tells Snowden: Russia conducts no US-style mass surveillance
Gov't is too broke for that, Russian prez says
Snowden-inspired crypto-email service Lavaboom launches
German service pays tribute to Lavabit
Mounties always get their man: Heartbleed 'hacker', 19, CUFFED
Canadian teen accused of raiding tax computers using OpenSSL bug
Heartbleed exploit, inoculation, both released
File under 'this is going to hurt you more than it hurts me'
Arts and crafts store Michaels says 3 million credit cards exposed in breach
Meanwhile, Target investigators prepare for long process in nabbing hackers
Canadian taxman says hundreds pierced by Heartbleed SSL skewer
900 social insurance numbers nicked, says revenue watchman
prev story

Whitepapers

SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.