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What you need to know about that latest NSA data dump

This could make it even harder for Europe and Silicon Valley to trust the U.S. government.

FILE PHOTO  NSA Compiles Massive Database Of Private Phone Calls NSA via Getty Images

A group of hackers released on Friday what appears to be the most extensive data dump yet from the National Security Agency.

The hack could have consequences for the relationship between big software companies and the U.S. government and could make it harder for Europe to trust the U.S. to respect privacy agreements.

Experts believe the hacker group behind the leak, Shadow Brokers, is connected with the Russian government. The group has released stolen information from the NSA before.

If documents released by the hack are authentic, it would show that the NSA has compromised a Dubai-based firm that routes bank transfers between countries. The hack also revealed how to break into Microsoft software. Here’s a more detailed explainer from George Washington University professor Henry Farrell.

Here are some things found in the dump.

  • The NSA penetrated a service bureau for Swift. Swift is an international financial messaging service used for transferring money between banks, and it possesses data useful for tracking how money flows around the world.

Why it matters: The U.S. government is technically allowed to access data from Swift only through a formal safeguarded process, but information revealed in the hack indicates the NSA is secretly accessing information outside this agreement. This is bound to upset European regulators.

  • Zero-day exploits for Microsoft software. A zero-day vulnerability is defined as a vulnerability or hole in software that the software vendor doesn’t know about. Being able to exploit that type of vulnerability in software as common as Microsoft Windows is considered highly valuable for clear reasons. Microsoft has said it has already patched the vulnerabilities discovered in this latest hack.

Why it matters: If the NSA didn’t let Microsoft know about the zero-day vulnerabilities, that could further undermine tech companies’ already eroded trust of the government.

This article originally appeared on

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