Russian hackers exploited popular anti-virus software to gain access to NSA secrets: WSJ

The National Security Agency (NSA) logo is shown on a computer screen inside the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland.

Brooks Kraft | Corbis | Getty Images

The National Security Agency (NSA) logo is shown on a computer screen inside the NSA in Fort Meade, Maryland.

A popular Russian-made anti-virus program is linked to one of the most significant security breaches in years, according to a report The Wall Street Journal published today.

According to the report, hackers employed by the Russian government stole information related to American cyber tactics after a contractor working for the National Security Agency put the highly classified material on his home computer.

The contractor used anti-virus software made by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm headquartered in Moscow. 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 U.S. government, the report said.

Once authorized for use on computers belonging to the Army, Navy and Air Force, Kaspersky software continues to be sold widely throughout Western Europe and the Americas, including the United States.

In June, a military funding bill in the Senate sought to ban Kaspersky software from being used by the military. According to the Journal, national security officials suspect the company of being a proxy for the Russian government, though the company denies those claims.

The company told the Journal that it “has not been provided any information or evidence substantiating this alleged incident, and as a result, we must assume that this is another example of a false accusation.”

An NSA spokesperson also declined to comment to the Journal.

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