Published: Sat, October 07, 2017
Medicine | By Melba Vasquez

Russian Cybersecurity Firm Says It Is a 'Pawn' in US Conflict

More than 400 million people use Kaspersky Lab's antivirus software.

Of course it was only a year ago that Harold Martin, a contractor for the NSA, was arrested after he knowingly took home documents and digital files that contained highly sensitive information. Did the NSA or the Department of Defense begin warning federal agencies to migrate to a different anti-virus platform at that time? The newspaper, citing people familiar with the issue, said Rogers has received a letter of reprimand from his superiors.

"It's a disservice to the public and our national security to continue withholding this information", Shaheen said.

Neither the contractor's identity nor his firm were immediately known. It's unclear if he has been dismissed or charged in the incident, which is still being investigated.

The NSA contractor is believed to have taken highly sensitive official software home to a personal computer in 2015. The F.B.I., aided by American spies, has for years been trying to determine whether Kaspersky's senior executives are working with Russian military and intelligence, according to current and former American officials.

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"Kaspersky Lab has not been provided any evidence substantiating the company's involvement in the alleged incident reported by the Wall Street Journal", it said.

The paper reported that the contractor had used antivirus software by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab that made it possible for the hackers to identify and target the contractor's files.

The Russia-based company has been under the US government radar for the past few years.

Kaspersky, for its part, said in a statement that it "does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russian Federation, and the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight".

Martin's case followed the 2013 revelations of Edward Snowden, who fled his job as an NSA contractor in Hawaii for Hong Kong and then Russian Federation after stealing and releasing a trove of data on classified USA data-collection programs.

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The said information was deemed crucial as it can be used by the Russian government to protect its own network and make it impossible for NSA to conduct cyber espionage. The employee who installed the software of the popular Kaspersky Lab company apparently did not attempt to deliberately leak the information and was not aware of the extent of the risk. If these reports are true, Russian Federation has pulled that off.

The breach, which took place in 2015, allowed hackers to take key NSA tools. Matthew Green, a cryptography professor at Johns Hopkins University, wrote: "Consensus on infosec Twitter is that Kaspersky may not have colluded with [the Russian government]; just maybe their product may be horrendously compromised". That company is a Russian company. The company has said that it has not, and would never, help any government, including the Russian government, hack into its customers computers.

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Whether or not Kaspersky was aware of this particular incident, the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive in September banning the USA government from using any cybersecurity software from Kaspersky Lab. Two months later, the bureau reportedly warned private sector companies against using Kaspersky software.

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