An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Two former employees of the National Security Agency -- including exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden -- are speculating that Monday's leak of what are now confirmed to be advanced hacking tools belonging to the U.S. government is connected to the separate high-profile hacks and subsequent leaks of two Democratic groups. Private security firms brought in to investigate the breach of the Democratic National Committee and a separate hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have said that the software left behind implicates hackers tied to the Russian government. U.S. intelligence officials have privately said they, too, have high confidence of Russian government involvement. Both Snowden and Dave Aitel, an offensive security expert who spent six years as an NSA security scientist, are speculating that Monday's leak by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers is in response to growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the hacks on the Democratic groups. As this post was being prepared, researchers with Kaspersky Lab confirmed that the tools belong to Equation Group, one of the most sophisticated hacking groups they've ever investigated. "Why did they do it?" Snowden wrote in a series of tweets early Tuesday morning. "No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack." In a brief post of his own, Aitel agreed that Russia is the most likely suspect behind both the Democratic hacks and the leaking of the NSA spying tools. He also said the NSA data was likely obtained by someone with physical access to an NSA secure area who managed to walk out with a USB stick loaded with secrets.