“It is not just in Baltimore,” says the Times report. “Security experts say EternalBlue attacks have reached a high, and cybercriminals are zeroing in on vulnerable American towns and cities, from Pennsylvania to Texas, paralyzing local governments and driving up costs.”
The news might prompt some surveillance critics and privacy advocates to say, “I told you so.”
For years, law enforcement and intelligence agencies have argued that backdoors should be built into encryption systems to allow the agencies to access suspects’ computers. And the NSA has often developed its own tools for cracking into machines and networks to gather data. But critics have long argued that any such backdoors would inevitably be discovered by hackers and that efforts by spy agencies could spin out of control.
Referring to EternalBlue, Vikram Thakur, Symantec’s director of security response, told the Times that “it’s incredible that a tool which was used by intelligence services is now publicly available and so widely used.” And unnamed officials told the paper that more accountability was needed at the NSA, with one comparing the EternalBlue leak to failing to secure a warehouse of automatic weapons.
Agency advocates, though, say such tools are needed to fight crime and terrorism, and that they’re the inevitable cost of being prepared for cyberwarfare and ensuring national security.
When asked by CNET about the Times report, the NSA declined to comment.
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