A new report claims Russian hackers obtained highly classified information on how the U.S. deals with cyberattacks — and that the hackers were tipped off to the data’s location by Kaspersky Lab’s software. Kaspersky is a maker of popular antivirus software that has come under fire recently for its alleged Russian connections.
The Wall Street Journal reports the data stolen concerns information on how the U.S. both defends against cyberattacks, and how it commits cyberattacks of its own against foreign networks. Sources said the data was stolen when an NSA contractor moved the information onto his home computer, leaving it vulnerable.
Hackers reportedly targeted the contractor when Kaspersky’s antivirus software identified the files were on his computer. Though members of the intelligence community have discussed concerns with Kaspersky’s software before, the report notes that this 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.”
In August, White House cybersecurity coordinator Rob Joyce warned consumers about using products from Kaspersky Lab due to the company’s supposed ties to Russian intelligence. Of course, further heightening matters, this all comes at a time when a U.S. special counsel is currently investigating President Donald Trump’s alleged connections to Russia during his presidential campaign.
A spokesman from the NSA did not comment on the breach. Kaspersky released a statement saying “this is another example of a false accusation.”
Kaspersky further stated that their company is private and has no ties to any government, and would not assist any government in their “cyberespionage efforts.”
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) believes otherwise. Shaheen released a statement accusing Kaspersky of “strong ties” to the Kremlin, and said this incident is a warning about “the serious dangers of using Kaspersky software.”
More details will certainly be revealed about this breach as time goes on. But if you’re a concerned Kaspersky user, there are plenty of other solid antivirus options out there, and many of them are free.