Israeli spies 'watched Russian agents breach Kaspersky software'

James Marshall
October 12, 2017

Israeli intelligence officers were behind a tip-off to U.S. agencies that the Kremlin was using Kaspersky Lab's anti-virus software to steal American hacking tools, USA media has reported.

The U.S. government last month ordered Kaspersky software removed from government computers, saying it was concerned the Moscow-based cyber security firm was vulnerable to Kremlin influence. The anti-virus vendor is used by 400 million people globally, including USA government agencies.

The Russian operatives were reportedly using a Kaspersky antivirus program, which is widely used to scan a computer for malicious files, as a quasi-search engine to scan for codenames of USA intelligence programs.

After an investigation, the NSA found that those tools were in possession of the Russian government, the Post said.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) had told North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies that it believed Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, had "probable access" to Kaspersky data on company customers and the antivirus source code. "Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts", the company said on Tuesday.

On Wednesday, The New York Times cited multiple people who have been briefed on the matter in a report claiming that it was Israeli hackers who discovered Russian hackers using the anti-virus software to steal American hacking tools.

In antivirus "Kaspersky Lab" was spelled out an in depth scan documents on the computers to search for classified information.

The newspaper said the National Security Agency and the White House declined to comment, as did the Israeli Embassy, while the Russian Embassy did not respond to requests for comment.

Kaspersky's complicity in the Kremlin's cyber-burglary has not been attested by reports, although the company and its founder Eugene Kaspersky have consistently denied wrongdoing.

In a statement at the time of The Wall Street Journal article, Kaspersky said: As a private company, (we do) 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.

But Germany disputed USA officials' claims that the Moscow-based company is either collaborating with the Vladimir Putin's intelligence machine, or is being hijacked by it.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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