Russian hackers alleged to have stolen NSA data via Kaspersky antivirus software

Saturday, 07 Oct, 2017

Russian hackers stole top secret cybertools from a National Security Agency contractor in yet another embarrassing compromise for USA spy agencies, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.

Reports that the Russian hackers who allegedly attacked the United States National Security Agency (NSA) used information obtained using Kaspersky Anti-Virus indicate that Kaspersky Lab is "caught up" the middle of a geopolitical conflict, the company said in a statement obtained by Interfax on October 6.

Best Buy pulled Kaspersky's products from its shelves in early September over worries the Moscow-based company could be influenced by the Kremlin. In other words, they got the mother load, as Russian Federation could conceivably use the information to infiltrate American networks while protecting their own from incursion.

Last month, the USA government moved to ban the use of Kaspersky security software by federal agencies over concerns it had ties to Kremlin cyberespionage activities.

Rogers came into his post in 2014 promising to staunch leaks after the disclosure that NSA contractor Edward Snowden the year before gave classified documents to journalists that revealed surveillance programs run by the United States and its allies.

Kaspersky has denied any involvement in the theft, and it is unclear whether the hackers stole code or documents from the contractor.

If this is true, not only will this optimise Russian defensive capabilities but it provides the Russian hackers with valuable insights into how to infiltrate the networks of USA and other nations. NSA has contacted Kaspersky to obtain more information.

Russian hackers reportedly stole classified NSA cyberweapons from the home computer of one of the agency's contractors, after the unspecified contractor removed the classified data and stored it one his personal computer.

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The breach, which took place in 2015, allowed hackers to take key NSA tools. Kaspersky says it has more than 400 million users world-wide.

The WSJ report doesn't explain how the attack was attributed to the Russian government, nor how Kaspersky was linked to the hack.

The alleged use of Kaspersky's antivirus software adds fuel to an ongoing dispute between it and the U.S. government.

Kaspersky, for its part, said in a statement that it "does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russian Federation, and the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight".

'We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals.

"It's a lot harder to beat your opponent when they're reading your playbook, and it's even worse when someone on your team gives it to them. If these reports are true, Russian Federation has pulled that off", he said.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH) is an outspoken critic of Kaspersky's software and has advocated for a ban on the software's use in federal computer networks. Once they got that warning signal, the hackers purged the computer for the key NSA spy tools.