Russian hackers stole NSA cyber-defence files

Russian hackers get U.S. cyber defense details from NSA WSJ

Russian hackers get U.S. cyber defense details from NSA WSJ

Last month, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) gave civilian agencies, on DHS networks, 90 days to identify and remove Kaspersky software, unless the agencies were directed otherwise.

There's been some worry among USA intelligence officials that Russian spy agencies could use the anti-virus software to gather intelligence across the globe.

First reported by the Wall Street Journal, Russian hackers stole classified data regarding NSA cybersecurity programs after breaching a personal computer used by an agency contractor in 2015.

MOSCOW-Russian software developer Kaspersky Lab said Friday it had become a "pawn in a geopolitical conflict" between Russia and the U.S., following the disclosure its software was used to help Russian intelligence steal secrets from the U.S. National Security Agency.

The Journal reports the breach took place in 2015 but was not discovered until a year ago, and was possibly done through a contractor's use of Russian-made antivirus software from Kaspersky Labs. It is speculated that this breach might have given an advantage to the Russian Intelligence to interfere in 2016 Presidential elections in the U.S.

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The employee involved was a US citizen born in Vietnam and had worked at Tailored Access Operations, the elite hacking division of the NSA that develops tools to penetrate computers overseas to gather foreign intelligence, said the individuals, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing case.

"The department 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", the directive said. The breach is the first known incident in which Kaspersky software is believed to have been exploited by Russian hackers to conduct espionage against the US government, the report said.

The information could help the Russians guard their own networks, making it more hard for American spooks to surveil Russia. Kaspersky has just seen his USA government business trashed over fears he might have been working a little closely with Putin's spooks.

The officials, all of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity because the inquiries are classified, would not provide details of the information they have collected on Kaspersky.

The timing of this seems pretty curious, too. The NSA intrusion, she said, is a "stark warning".

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Part of that answer might be found in the details of the WSJ report.

Even if Kaspersky did get hold of such files, it isn't established whether they came running to Kremlin to inform the government of its findings.

He said it's possible the contractor was working to develop malicious code for the NSA, which could have triggered an alarm at Kaspersky, which then looked at that data. They have enough, however, to warrant the purge. But, we just have to wait for the conclusion of the investigation.

Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky has called USA government efforts "extreme".

Among the material the employee had taken home to work on was hacking tools.

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