Israel played key role in Russian cyber-espionage scandal

Israel played key role in Russian cyber-espionage scandal

Israel played key role in Russian cyber-espionage scandal

Kaspersky, a popular Russian antivirus software used by several United States agencies, was reportedly exploited by Russian hackers as a Google-like search tool to sniff out sensitive information, The New York Times reported on Tuesday night.

The Israeli officials, who had detected the hacking two years ago, alerted the USA that Russian hackers were using the software as a sort of Google search engine for sensitive information, the Times reported, leading the Trump administration to order federal agencies to remove the Moscow-based cybersecurity software company's products from their networks.

During their time rummaging around the Kaspersky network, the Israeli spies reportedly discovered, in real time, some fellow spies, though of Russian heritage.

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The US National Intelligence Council report completed late last month concluded Russia's FSB (Federal Security Service) intelligence service had "probable access" to Kaspersky customer databases and source code, the Post reported. This resulted in an NSA investigation which found that these tools had reached the Kremlin.

That access, it concluded, could help enable cyber attacks against USA government, commercial and industrial control networks, the Post reported. The US Dept. of Homeland Security issued a statement at the time, saying that there existed a risk "that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates USA national security".

The New York Times said its information had come from current and former government officials.

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The New York Times said the Russian operation, according to multiple people briefed on the matter, is known to have stolen classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had improperly stored them on his home computer, which had Kaspersky antivirus software installed on it.

Kaspersky Lab issued a statement on Tuesday denying any involvement in the Russian hacks: "Kaspersky Lab reiterates its willingness to work alongside US authorities to address any concerns they may have about its products", the statement read. The company vigorously denied the allegations.

However US officials have said that the company is either collaborating with the Vladimir Putin's intelligence machine, or is being hijacked by it.

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