Russian hackers reportedly stole NSA cyber secrets in 2015

Violet Powell
October 7, 2017

Russian government hackers stole data about how the United States penetrates foreign computer networks and defends against cyberattacks after a National Security Agency contractor removed highly classified material and stashed it on his home computer, a new report said Thursday.

The contractor was using antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, the sources said, which was how the hackers were able to target the contractor.

Notably, the breach did not involve former NSA contractor Harold T. Martin III, who was arrested a year ago after carrying out what is said to be the largest theft of classified information in USA history, the individuals said.

"It is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company", Kaspersky said in a statement provided to the AP.

Kaspersky said it has not been provided with any evidence substantiating the company's involvement in the incident. The company's products are not allowed on systems belonging to the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US military amid national security concerns. They also reportedly stole information on how the NSA defends networks inside the US.

Kaspersky denies any ties with Russian government and stated that the allegations have no basis.

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The hack took place in 2015, and included information on penetrating foreign computer networks and protecting against cyber attacks.

Kaspersky denied "inappropriate ties with any government" and criticized the US decision to ban its software as "based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies".

Russian security firm Kaspersky has once again been accused of wrongdoing in the U.S. in a new case involving hacking of the National Security Association (NSA).

The company said it appears to be caught in the middle of a "geopolitical fight". The suspicion is that Kaspersky may have some coordination with Russian intel to look for data that specifically references intelligence operations and then directs them to that user for further penetration. 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. We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals - you shouldn't accept any less. The Russian company's software was banned from USA government agencies last month after a report in Bloomberg alleged the company had been working closely with the Russian government for years.

"It's a lot harder to beat your opponent when they're reading your playbook, and it's even worse when someone on your team gives it to them".

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). Once they got that warning signal, the hackers purged the computer for the key NSA spy tools.

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