Home Security Israelis 'watched Russians use Kaspersky wares to find NSA malware'

Russian Government employees are claimed to have used Kaspersky's anti-virus software to search for the code names of US intelligence programmes, while Israeli intelligence officials looked on, a report claims.

Exactly how the Russians used Kaspersky's software was not detailed by The New York Times, which also said the Israelis alerted the US to the Russian activity which led to the current US ban on software from the Russian firm being used in government agencies.

The claims come in the wake of a report last week that claimed Russian hackers had infiltrated the home computer of an NSA employee who had taken work home and obtained details of how the US breaks into networks of other countries and also how it defends itself.

Reacting to the latest story, the head of Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, tweeted: "Kaspersky Lab was not involved in, and does not possess any knowledge of the intelligence operation described in the recent @NYTimes article."

The New York Times said its information had come from current and former government officials.

The NSA, the White House, and the Israeli Embassy declined to comment, while the Russian Embassy did not respond.

The report said that the Russian hacking activity did not appear to be related to the Shadow Brokers, a group that dumped a stash of NSA exploits last year.

Big American retailers Best Buy and Office Depot have taken Kaspersky Lab products off their shelves in the wake of a US Government ban on the use of the same in federal agencies.

The report said the Israelis had gained the information about Russian hackers using Kaspersky's products to scan US systems from a break-in into Kaspersky's systems back in 2014.

The break-in was only discovered by Kaspersky investigators in 2015; it detailed its findings in a report.

"Israeli intelligence officers informed the NSA that in the course of their Kaspersky hack, they uncovered evidence that Russian government hackers were using Kaspersky’s access to aggressively scan for American government classified programmes, and pulling any findings back to Russian intelligence systems," the report claimed.

"They provided their NSA counterparts with solid evidence of the Kremlin campaign in the form of screenshots and other documentation, according to the people briefed on the events."

Claims that Russia influenced the direction of the US presidential election in 2016 have been mounting since Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in November last year.

Some observers say Kaspersky Lab has become collateral damage in the stoush between the US and Russian Governments.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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