Russian hackers steal from United States government again - expert says U.S. at fault

Posted October 07, 2017

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Russian hackers might have targeted the NSA contractor because they identified the files through antivirus software he was using - made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab.

The Journal reported that the incident occurred in 2015 but wasn't uncovered until a year ago.

"Kaspersky Lab has not been provided any evidence substantiating the company's involvement in the alleged incident reported by the Wall Street Journal on October 5, 2017, and it is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company", a Kaspersky Lab spokesperson told Silicon.

The concerns surrounding Kaspersky, whose software is sold throughout the United States, are longstanding. An online entity called the "Shadow Brokers" also has tried to auction what it called software stolen from the NSA.

The Justice Department also charged a NSA contractor - "Reality Winner" - with leaking classified documents concerning Russian election interference earlier this year. "Even though we have an internal security team, and do bug bounties, we can't give 100% guarantee that there are no security issues in our products, name another security software vendor who can!"

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At the time, the Department of Homeland Security said it "is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks".

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.

Kaspersky Lab asserts that it is not inappropriately tied to the government in Russian Federation, however.

The information could help the Russians guard their own networks, making it more hard for American spooks to surveil Russia.

Given the USA government's recent decision to ban the use of Kaspersky AV software, one might assume Kaspersky itself acted maliciously.

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The NSA, which monitors, collects and processes the most classified communications data for national security purposes, wouldn't confirm or deny that the incident occurred but said in a statement that it has taken steps to improve its security.

"We patch the most severe bugs in a matter of hours, so why not make the world a bit more secure by reporting the vulnerability to us?" His critics say it's unlikely that his company could operate independently in Russian Federation, where the economy is dominated by state-owned companies and the power of spy agencies has expanded dramatically under President Vladimir Putin.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May, the chiefs of six major USA spy agencies all said they would not use Kaspersky software on their computers. The men and women of the U.S. Intelligence Community are patriots; but, the NSA needs to get its head out of the sand and solve its contractor problem.

It is suspected that the data was breached from home computer of an NSA contractor.

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