The Nasdaq digital bomb is the only known case of a digital weapon being placed into a critical system in America, at least according to the NSA. A new investigative report from Bloomberg Business Week details the investigation into the hacking of the Nasdaq stock exchange. It’s the first time that the full story has been revealed.
The story is frightening, and, well, embarrassing. The NSA, FBI, Secret Service and CIA all investigated the incident at one point or another. Despite their best efforts, officials still don’t know the identities of the hackers, their motives, or what they did or what they intended to do.
Their only solid conclusion seems to be that America is vulnerable. The digital bomb malware was detected in October 2010, but officials believe that hackers could have had access to Nasdaq communication systems for months before that.
The NSA originally believed that the digital bomb was capable of wiping out the entire Nasdaq, then further analysis showed that it was actually less dangerous, but could steal information or cause disruptions.
But the most consequential mystery is who dropped the digital bomb.
The NSA originally believed the virus came from Russia based on the bomb’s coding.
One of the more interesting and convincing theories was that the Russians were not actually trying to sabotage the Nasdaq, but learn from it, to one day incorporate the technology in Russian stock exchanges. Although there is not enough evidence to conclude if this was a government operation or just a very sophisticated group of hackers.
The hacking case may partially explain why the NSA has had so much government backing after the Snowden whistle blowing, which happened at around the same time.
The NSA was the first organization to investigate the digital bomb. In one of the worst security breaches on record, the NSA had a chance to show that it was indispensable.
And what kind of affect will this have on U.S. – Russian relations, if investigators conclude this was a attack from the Kremlin? As the Bloomberg story states, “attack code is a military strike.”
What a terrible time to come out to the public.
Russia has already alienated the rest of the world with the Ukrainian crisis, which just recently took the lives of hundreds of innocent bystanders. If the digital bomb turns out to be a deliberate attack on the U.S. there’s no telling how the American government will react.
The full Bloomberg report can be found here.