The purported hack of the National Security Agency sends a message that the United States can be held accountable if it meddles in the affairs of other countries, Edward Snowden said on Tuesday, particularly if it it's hacked any elections.
"This leak is likely a warning that someone can prove US responsibility for any attacks that originated from this malware server," the former NSA contractor said in one of a series of messages on Twitter. "That could have significant foreign policy consequences. Particularly if any of those operations targeted US allies. Particularly if any of those operations targeted elections."
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Snowden, who holds asylum in Russia, speculated it was possible his adoptive country was behind the hack, and that it was meant to send a message in response to allegations that Russia hacked the Democratic National Committee or its affiliates.
"Why did they do it? No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack. Circumstantial evidence and conventional wisdom indicates Russian responsibility [for hacking the NSA]," Snowden added. "Accordingly, this may be an effort to influence the calculus of decision-makers wondering how sharply to respond to the DNC hacks."
You're welcome, @NSAGov. Lots of love.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 16, 2016
The undetected hacker squatting on this NSA server lost access in June 2013. Rare public data point on the positive results of the leak.— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 16, 2016
A group calling itself the Shadow Brokers claimed in a blog post over the weekend that it had successfully hacked the Equation Group, a hacking unit affiliated with the NSA, and stolen the agency's offensive technology. The group said it was seeking to sell the tools to the highest bidder, but the post has since been taken offline, and WikiLeaks said on Tuesday that it was planning to release the same information to the public.
Snowden said the data was likely taken as part of a counterintelligence operation by a foreign government the NSA had targeted in the past, and that it could be used to prove whether the NSA was roaming through anyone else's systems. However, he noted the group also seemed to have lost access in 2013 because of a system reset prompted by Snowden's own release of agency information.
"When I came forward, NSA would have migrated offensive operations to new servers as a precaution — it's cheap and easy. So? ... The undetected hacker squatting on this NSA server lost access in June 2013," Snowden said.