With ongoing discussion of the Shadow Brokers hack, experts and former employees of the NSA have already affirmed that the data is almost certainly the real McCoy. The bigger question, however, is still unanswered: how did the NSA lose it in the first place?
Speculation of a Russian “plot” is unsatisfying, and well short of a complete explanation for what happened, given that these tools appear to be “the keys to the kingdom” and perhaps the most advanced hacking tools on the planet. Experts say this sort of collection wouldn’t just be sitting around for some random hacker group, state-run or otherwise.
Or at least it shouldn’t. The competing theories right now for how the code got out of the NSA in the first place are that the agency either indeed just left a bunch of highly secret kit on some server by mistake, which would be wildly irresponsible, or that the whole “hacking” story is a cover, and the code leak is actually the result of a mole who made off with it.
Either way, the NSA loss is a massive one, which in the near-term puts these tools in the hands of people who might attack US government networks, and which in the long run will mean this huge cache of exploits will be patched by network security companies, making NSA surveillance a lot tougher. There is no agreement on which of the two stories is more likely, or indeed which is worse for the NSA.