Wednesday, 11 October 2017

New York Times claims that Kaspersky was hacked by Israeli intelligence.

Newspaper claims that Israeli intelligence observed Kaspersky searching users' PCs for code names of US intelligence programs.

Israeli intelligence hacked Russian security firm Kaspersky two years ago and found US National Security Agency (NSA) tools on its network, according to the New York Times

Furthermore, the newspaper claims that the Israelis promptly informed US intelligence of its findings, and reiterated suggestions made last week that Kaspersky uses its anti-virus software to scan users' PCs for classified information.  

The reported claimed that "Israeli intelligence officers looked in real time as Russian government hackers searched computers around the world for the code names of American intelligence programs".

It adds that the tool that it used to conduct that search was the company's own anti-virus software. It suggests that that finding was behind the US government decision to remove Kaspersky's anti-virus security software from government systems.

It follows on from reports in the Wall Street Journal last week claiming that Kaspersky anti-virus software had been used to exfiltrate classified documents from the PC of an NSA employee who had taken the documents home.

Kaspersky was one of the pioneers of ‘heuristic detection' almost 20 years ago, and the pervasive connection of PCs to fast internet connections means that, these days, all anti-virus software packages automatically send files that look suspicious back to base for analysis - making evaluating the latest claims challenging.
Kaspersky, of course, categorically rejected the claims.

"We absolutely and aggressively detect and clean malware infections no matter the source, and have been proudly doing so for 20 years," wrote co-founder Eugene Kaspersky last week in a blog post in response to earlier allegations aired in the US press. "We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals - you shouldn't accept any less.

"While protecting our customers, we do - as any other cybersecurity vendors - check the health of a computer. It works like an X-ray: the security solution can see almost everything in order to identify problems, but it cannot attribute what it sees to a particular user."

The company also re-asserted its claim that it "does not have inappropriate ties with any government, including Russia", and that "the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight". 

The company added that it "does not possess any knowledge" of the Israeli hack, but that it would investigate.

However, in the US, many security firms also have close ties to US intelligence; likewise in the UK with GCHQ. The CIA also has its own venture capital firm with a brief to invest in companies developing technologies that might be of interest to US intelligence agencies.

Its portfolio today leans towards big data investments, including NoSQL database pioneer MongoDB, machine learning company Brainspace, and mobile security company MobileIron. 

Culled from Computing.

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