Russian hackers steal critical cyber defense data from NSA contractor's home PC

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The information includes details of how the NSA penetrates foreign computer networks, the computer code it uses for such spying and how it defends networks inside the US, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing unidentified sources.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the hackers discovered the contractor "after identifying the files through the contractor's use of a popular antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab".

The incident occurred in 2015, according to the WSJ, but was not discovered until a year ago.

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"It is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company", Kaspersky said in a statement provided to the AP. The breach exposed NSA's cyberwarfare strategy, which included methods to hack foreign networks and defend their own.

In response to this story, founder Eugene Kaspersky has reiterated that his company doesn't have any ties with the Russian government.

According to anonymous sources, a malicious code let hackers steal classified code, documentation and some other sensitive data.

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Suddenly the curious Kaspersky case looks a little clearer. That means the Russian government might now possess the keys to infiltrate USA government computer networks and perhaps even know how to defend itself against US intelligence operations. All it did was raise even more suspicions, and should have had everyone checking to ensure that their computers didn't have Kaspersky on them. Kaspersky has always been accused of having close ties with the Russian government, going as far as aiding it in spying on the U.S. governments through, as in this case, contractors and ordinary citizens. "Basically, it seems that because I'm a self-made entrepreneur who, due to my age and nationality, inevitably was educated during the Soviet era in Russia, they mistakenly conclude my company and I must be bosom buddies with the Russian intelligence agencies ..."

The breach happened despite the fact that U.S. agencies have been banned from using Kaspersky over spying fears - demonstrating that, regardless of an organisation's policies, if an insider can still circumvent them whether intentionally or not, data will still be placed at serious risk. Instead, it's possible that the Russians exploited vulnerabilities within Kaspersky's software to get the data. Kaspersky says it has more than 400 million users world-wide. The existence of the information may have been revealed through the contractor's use of Kaspersky Lab security software.

Kaspersky Lab said in a statement it "does not have inappropriate ties to the Russian government". A day later, US senators sought to ban the use of its products "due to reports that the company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence".

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The facts, as they stand, are that neither The Wall Street Journal nor the NSA has provided any proof that Kaspersky was involved in this hack.

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