Russian Hackers Reportedly Use Kaspersky Software to Steal U.S Cyber Secrets from NSA
Reports say that Russian hackers used Kaspersky antivirus software to steal sensitive data from the U.S National Security Agency. The data breach happened after an NSA contractor reportedly put highly classified information on his home computer.
The alleged hack has come to light after two prominent newspapers, namely The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post published reports about it.
The Wall Street Journal reports- “Hackers working for the Russian government stole details of how the U.S. penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed the highly classified material and put it on his home computer, according to multiple people with knowledge of the matter.”
The Washington Post report says- “Russian government hackers lifted details of U.S. cyber capabilities from a National Security Agency employee who was running Russian antivirus software on his computer, according to several individuals familiar with the matter.”
Both the reports say that it was the Kaspersky antivirus software that was used to carry out the hack. The Wall Street Journal, attributing it to the “multiple people with knowledge of the matter,” says- “The hackers appear to have targeted the contractor after identifying the files through the contractor’s use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, these people said.”
The Washington Post report puts it as- “The employee had taken classified material home to work on it on his computer, and his use of Kaspersky Lab antivirus software enabled Russian hackers to see his files, the individuals said.”
The issue had reportedly happened in 2015 and is yet to be made public, and federal prosecutors are investigating the case. It’s also reported that the employee who was involved is a U.S citizen born in Vietnam, who was removed from his job in 2015. He was part of the Tailored Access Operations, the elite hacking division of the NSA that specializes in developing tools to penetrate computers overseas in order to gather foreign intelligence.
The NSA has reportedly chosen not to comment on the issue, as per their policy, while Kaspersky has denied the allegations. Reuters quotes from Kaspersky statement- “Kaspersky Lab has not been provided any evidence substantiating the company’s involvement in the alleged incident reported by the Wall Street Journal…It is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company.”
It’s to be remembered that the Department of Homeland Security had recently moved to ban Kaspersky products in federal agencies in the midst of rising concerns that the company has ties with state-sponsored cyberespionage activities.