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Those Hacked NSA Malware Names Are Funny, But Don’t Laugh Too Hard

August 18, 2016, 12:30 PM UTC
The New Yorker Festival 2014 - Edward Snowden Interviewed by Jane Mayer
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 11: General view of atmosphere at the Edward Snowden Interviewed by Jane Mayer at the MasterCard stage at SVA Theatre during The New Yorker Festival 2014 on October 11, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for The New Yorker)
Photograph by Bryan Bedder — Getty Images for The New Yorker

Whenever there’s a new leak of classified documents, it’s always fun to run through it and see what kind of goofy names the men in black at the National Security Agency have come up with. The latest breach is no exception—it’s a treasure trove of hilarious monikers like EPICBANANA, WOBBLYLLAMA and EGREGIOUSBLUNDER.

These names all refer to exploits that are available in a cache of software from a gang known as the “Equation Group,” which a number of security analysts say is likely a front for the National Security Agency. Another group called the ShadowBrokers is trying to unload the whole thing for about $600 million in bitcoin.

As Fortune‘s Robert Hackett has noted, whistleblower Edward Snowden believes the software came from a staging server the Equation Group forgot to wipe, which was subsequently hacked by Russia. He suspects the code may have been used on some of the U.S. government’s enemies and possibly even allies.

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Why does any of this matter? Well, in part because it contributes to the overall destabilization of global geopolitics, but also because it reinforces the point that this kind of hacking is as mainstream as it gets. This isn’t a new Bond film or William Gibson novel set in some apocalyptic hellscape. It’s happening right now.

What that means is that if you haven’t been hacked, you probably will be—maybe not by the NSA or its front men, but by someone. And not just you, but your company and your school and probably your church, and definitely your country. And there’s very little you can do about it. Welcome to the future.