Israel told the NSA, where frightened officials quickly began a hunt for the gap, according to users familiar with the subject, who said an inquiry by the agency revealed that the tools were in the territory of the Russian government.
Israeli spies had discovered the hacking stuff on the network of Kaspersky Lab, the global anti-virus firm beneath a spotlight in the United States because of doubts that its results facilitate Russian espionage.
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security notified federal civilian agencies to identify Kaspersky Lab software on their systems and remove it on the grounds that “the risk that the Russian government, whether playing on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could benefit from access provided by Kaspersky results to settle federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.” The directive developed a decision by the General Services Administration to eliminate Kaspersky from its list of recommended vendors. And lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering a governmentwide ban.
The NSA rejected to comment on the Israeli discovery, which was first described by the News.
Kaspersky said in a declaration that “as a private company, Kaspersky Lab does not have improper ties to any government, including Russia, and the only result seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the midst of a geopolitical fight.” The company said it “does not maintain any knowledge” of Israel’s hack.
The firm’s originator, Eugene Kaspersky, said in a blog post last week that his anti-virus software is deemed to find malware from all quarters.
“We definitely and aggressively detect and clean malware diseases no matter the source,” he wrote, suggesting that the NSA hacking tools could have been plucked up as malware by the anti-virus program.
In the 2015 case, prosecutors at the NSA examining how the Russians took the material eventually narrowed their search to an employee in the agency’s elite Tailored Access Operations division, which comprises hackers who collect intelligence about foreign targets. The operator was using Kaspersky anti-virus software on his home computer, according to the people familiar with the matter.