US Kaspersky Purge a Result of Israeli Intel Hack

EnlargeMikhail Deynekin

EnlargeMikhail Deynekin

Israeli spies observed Russian government hackers in real time as they scoured computers around the world for the codenames of USA intelligence programs, The New York Times reported Tuesday night.

The National Security Agency, the White House, the Israeli Embassy and the Russian Embassy in Washington DC have not responded to inquiries nor issued comments on the report. The New York Times also confirmed, albeit via anonymous sources, that Israel was in fact behind the 2014 hack of the Russian cyber security firm, as most experts had suspected.

The alert to the U.S. authorities was based, according to the Times, on Israel's 2014 hacking of Kaspersky's corporate systems, which by then had been accused of serving as a front for Russian Intelligence.

According to the Times, Israeli Intelligence let the NSA know that while they had been touring the belly of the Kaspersky beast, they collected evidence that Russian government hackers were using the antivirus provider's access to brutally dig for and collect United States government classified information.

But the role of Israeli intelligence in uncovering the breach and the Russian hackers' use of Kaspersky software in the broader search for American secrets have not previously been disclosed, the outlets noted.

The reports do not, however, provide much detail on how complicit Kaspersky itself was in the commission of these espionage activities by Russian actors, if at all.

This operation apparently resulted in the theft of classified material from a contractor using Kaspersky Lab software at home, but not the hugely damaging leak of Equation Group tools to the Shadow Brokers hackers.

"As the integrity of our products is fundamental to our business, Kaspersky Lab patches any vulnerabilities it identifies or that are reported to the company", the statement said. "In addition, Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts".

However, in a statement sent to Infosecurity, the Russian security firm claimed it "was not involved in and does not possess any knowledge of the situation in question".

According to the Kaspersky report, the hackers burrowed deep in its system and evaded detection for months.

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