Four Researchers Suspend Patreon Campaign to Subscribe to The Shadow Brokers’ Monthly Exploit Service

It was only a matter of time until someone would seek to buy The Shadow Brokers’ exploits. A group of security researchers is raising funds to do exactly that. This news comes on the heels of the notorious cybercrime gang announcing their monthly exploit subscription package. The money needed to buy these exploits will be raised through the Patreon platform. It appears this campaign has now been put on hold until further notice. 

A Bold Plan By Four Security Researchers

Now that The Shadow Brokers are looking to establish a monthly subscription plan for their NSA exploits, things have taken a turn for the worse. More specifically, the group will only accept payments in Zcash, as it provides more anonymity compared to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, the entry price is quite steep, to say the least.

Security researchers are trying to buy into this monthly subscription service. However, they can only do so when they secure enough funding. So far, that process has been rather problematic, due to funding restrictions. As a result, the group is flocking to fundraising platform Patreon, to raise money for this subscription. It will be interesting to see if they can get enough money together, as they need roughly $20,000 for the membership fee.

This approach is quite novel, yet it also makes a lot of sense. It is in everybody’s best interest to ensure these NSA exploits are patched as soon as possible. If only criminals were to gain access to this information, things will get out of hand pretty quickly. The last thing our society needs is more cyber attacks due to attack vectors no one knew existed in the first place. With security researchers gaining access to this information, they can create countermeasures as soon as the exploit information becomes available.

Keeping in mind how we have seen a recent SMB worm using a total of seven different NSA exploits, it is evident The Shadow Brokers may sit on a treasure trove of information waiting to be abused by criminals. It is unclear what type of hacking tools they have gained from hacking the NSA a while ago. Rest assured this is not the last time NSA exploits will be used by criminals, regardless of this monthly subscription service.

It is quite interesting to see these four researchers use Patreon to raise the required money, though. It takes $20,000 – which needs to be converted to Zcash – to buy into this subscription service. It appears all Patreon backers will also receive a copy of the exploits, after they have been distributed to and patched by the affected vendors. This is quite an interesting concept, which will undoubtedly attract a lot of positive attention from interested parties.

There is one potential drawback people need to take into account, though. Giving this amount of money to criminals – despite having good intentions – will only incentivize The Shadow Brokers to continue doing what they do. This type of behavior should never be rewarded in the first place. Then again, it is of the utmost importance to keep our society safe from future exploits that could have global ramifications. It is a fine line to walk between doing what is best for society and giving criminals exactly what they want.

It appears this entire venture has been put on hold due to pending legal issues regarding the crowdfunding approach. That was only to be expected. It does not appear security researchers will get their hands on these monthly exploit dumps the “official” way by any means.

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