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Russian hackers target secrets taken by NSA worker

07 October, 2017, 00:12 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • THURSDAY JUNE 6 2013 FILE

Russian government-backed hackers reportedly stole classified USA information after a National Security Agency contractor put highly classified information on his home computer.

The contractor, who wasn't identified, took the classified material home, where Russian hackers stole it by exploiting vulnerabilities in Kaspersky Lab Inc. software that he had on his computer, according to the person, who asked not to be identified.

The contractor is understood to have taken work home with him and that is where the breach occurred. Kaspersky, meanwhile, said there "has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident".

This news comes in the wake of increasing concerns regarding Kaspersky Lab. The report also says the matter is under federal investigation at the moment and that the stolen material was used by Russian Federation to detect and avoid counterespionage carried out by the US. This practice and suspected deeper connections to Russian intelligence services were the reason for the Department of Homeland Security banning the use of Kaspersky software throughout the government.

"If the antivirus software was pulling back data with no code - for example, strategic documents containing classified information - that's the nail in the coffin", Kennedy said, adding it would be a "catastrophic" for the company. First, the Kaspersky AV software does not appear to have played a role in the actual exfiltration of the classified data. With this new knowledge, the Russian government has the ability to better protect their networks from U.S. hacks and more easily infiltrate the networks of other nations. The latter would prove far more damning for Kaspersky, experts say, especially as it stands accused by the U.S. government of being a tool of the Kremlin.

The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Election Security have concluded that operatives from two Russian spy agencies infiltrated computers of the Democratic National Committee months before the United States national election released hundreds of emails from the party staffers.




Three weeks ago, the Trump administration ordered USA federal executive branch agencies to remove Kaspersky anti-virus software from their computers within 90 days (see Kaspersky Software Ordered Removed From US Gov't Computers). An ABC News investigation earlier this year found that - largely through outside vendors - Kaspersky Lab software has been procured by some segments of the Defense Department, Justice Department and other federal agencies.

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

The information could help the Russians guard their own networks, making it more hard for American spooks to surveil Russia. "We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals", the company's statement reads.

"NSA needs to get its head out of the sand and solve its contractor problem".

"It's basically the equivalent of digital dumpster diving", said Blake Darché, a former NSA employee who worked in the agency's elite hacking group that targets foreign computer systems.

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