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posted by martyb on Friday October 06 2017, @09:48AM   Printer-friendly
from the whom-can-you-trust? dept.

According to unverifiable sources, an NSA contractor stored classified data and hacking tools on his home computer, which were made available to Russian hackers through the contractor's use of Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software:

Russian government-backed hackers stole highly classified U.S. cyber secrets in 2015 from the National Security Agency after a contractor put information on his home computer, two newspapers reported on Thursday.

As reported first by The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, the theft included information on penetrating foreign computer networks and protecting against cyber attacks and is likely to be viewed as one of the most significant security breaches to date.

In a later story, The Washington Post said the employee had worked at the NSA's Tailored Access Operations unit for elite hackers before he was fired in 2015.

[...] Citing unidentified sources, both the Journal and the Post also reported that the contractor used antivirus software from Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, the company whose products were banned from U.S. government networks last month because of suspicions they help the Kremlin conduct espionage.

Kaspersky Lab has strongly denied those allegations.

Russian government officials could have used flaws in Kaspersky software to hack into the machine in question, security experts told Reuters. They could also have intercepted traffic from the machine to Kaspersky computers.

Kaspersky said in a statement on Thursday that it found itself caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.

"Kaspersky Lab has not been provided any evidence substantiating the company's involvement in the alleged incident reported by the Wall Street Journal," it said. "It is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company."

This may be the source of files released by The Shadow Brokers. According to yet another anonymous source, the lax contractor in question is not Harold Martin.

Also at WSJ, The Hill, and The Verge.

Previously: NSA 'Shadow Brokers' Hack Shows SpyWar With Kremlin is Turning Hot
The Shadow Brokers Identify Hundreds of Targets Allegedly Hacked by the NSA
"Shadow Brokers" Release the Rest of Their NSA Hacking Tools
Fearing Shadow Brokers Leak, NSA Reported Critical Flaw to Microsoft
Kaspersky Lab has been Working With Russian Intelligence
FBI Reportedly Advising Companies to Ditch Kaspersky Apps
Federal Government, Concerned About Cyberespionage, Bans Use of Kaspersky Labs Products


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @10:24AM (12 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @10:24AM (#577919)

    The part about the NSA contractor's unauthorized (and patently stupid) actions is one thing. There are facts to be scrutinized here.

    OTOH, blaming Kaspersky because, you know, Russians are Teh Evilz, is just pushing a worn-out narrative with no more evidence than back-fence gossip without proof.

    TFA gets a 50% on the Fake News scoreboard.

    Meanwhile, Kaspersky has offered to provide their source code to .gov for analysis.

    Where's the analysis?

    • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday October 06 2017, @10:46AM (4 children)

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @10:46AM (#577926) Journal

      Meanwhile, Kaspersky has offered to provide their source code to .gov for analysis.

      To be fair to the gubbies, that's completely irrelevant since it would be trivial to run something different on the contractor's machine.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @10:58AM (3 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @10:58AM (#577930)

        Um...there's this checksum thing ya know.

        • (Score: 1) by khallow on Friday October 06 2017, @11:42AM

          by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @11:42AM (#577949) Journal
          And?
        • (Score: 0, Disagree) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @12:15PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @12:15PM (#577961)

          Um...there's this collision thing ya know.

          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by HiThere on Friday October 06 2017, @05:26PM

            by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @05:26PM (#578148)

            Collisions with working code on both ends are quite difficult to manage without LOTS of blatant garbage included in the more recent version. So that argument essentially fails.

            --
            Put not your faith in princes.
    • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday October 06 2017, @11:16AM (6 children)

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @11:16AM (#577941) Homepage Journal

      Yep. Next thing, they'll be saying don't use Kaspersky: use MS anti virus. And Windows. Always windows. Isn't that right, God....errrr, Mr Gates.

      I. Don't. Trust. The. Governments. Anymore!

      --
      --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
      • (Score: 4, Touché) by c0lo on Friday October 06 2017, @11:25AM (5 children)

        by c0lo (156) on Friday October 06 2017, @11:25AM (#577945)

        I. Don't. Trust. The. Governments. Anymore!

        Have you noticed any improvement in your life since you started to not trust the government?

        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:25PM (1 child)

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @03:25PM (#578057)

          I. Don't. Trust. The. Governments. Anymore!

          Have you noticed any improvement in your life since you started to not trust the government?

          Taking this comment seriously for a second... it dismisses the "herd immunity" of individual actions. For example, it is usually better (read: easier, cheaper, more rewards, less punishment) for any individual person to cooperate with authorities. However, if everybody does so, it results in an erosion of rights of individuals, such as courts recognizing the decreased expectations people have of privacy.

          Even if somebody's individual life degrades, the overall life of everybody may improve fractionally for each small act of defiance against authoritarianism.

          Just to Godwin it, everybody who stood quiet or even joined in Kristallnacht [wikipedia.org] or indeed the entire rise of Nazi-ism certainly had a much better life than the ones who defied it.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Friday October 06 2017, @09:01PM

            by c0lo (156) on Friday October 06 2017, @09:01PM (#578337)

            Taking this comment seriously for a second... it dismisses the "herd immunity" of individual actions.

            On the line of taking the comment seriously... it doesn't dismiss anything. Look, does the fact that the herd doesn't trust the government bring any improvement in the herd's life?

            I mean: yes, the lack of trust in the government is necessary, but is it sufficient?
            (if you just don't trust your government, congratulation... you learnt the freedom 101, here's your ribbon; mind with that pin, you clumsy. Now, go play with your prick in the sandbox, see if the government care about your trust)

        • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:29AM (2 children)

          by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:29AM (#578468) Homepage Journal

          Yes! The TPP was dropped because of activism among non-trusters (although, of course, vigilance is necessary). Stupidity like that would have made my life worse.

          --
          --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Saturday October 07 2017, @10:51AM (1 child)

            by c0lo (156) on Saturday October 07 2017, @10:51AM (#578535)

            And me who thought TPP was dropped only because it has had Obama's blessing.
            Maybe your (and others') life is not worse, but I don't see it any better.

            (what orange "great builder"... what has he build so far in the places where he "demolished Obama's constructions", what exactly is his counter-proposal?)

            • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:48PM

              by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 07 2017, @03:48PM (#578595) Homepage Journal

              It's better because it's NOT worse!
              :)

              --
              --- That's not flying: that's... falling... with more luck than I have. ---
  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tibman on Friday October 06 2017, @02:25PM (5 children)

    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @02:25PM (#578014)

    Lax contractor? Lax?! He put classified "cyber weapons" on his personal internet connected (24/7) windows machine. That wasn't lax. That was criminal.

    --
    SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by urza9814 on Friday October 06 2017, @03:51PM (1 child)

      by urza9814 (3954) on Friday October 06 2017, @03:51PM (#578073) Journal

      My thoughts exactly.

      They're sitting here trying to blame Kaspersky for the fact that one of their own damn contractors stole these documents. That laptop could have been stolen by a gang breaking into his car; it could have been leaked by any old malware; he could have emailed them to the press himself. Once you've got people putting classified information on their personal systems you've lost all control over it; THAT is the theft they ought to be concerned about.

      And how is that even possible? I literally can't figure out any way to transfer files from my work PC to my home computer. Can't use a USB stick, because the work laptops aren't permitted to access USB memory. Can't burn a CD; we don't have CD burners. Can't email it due to file size limits and no access to personal email from work devices and vice-versa. Cloud storage sites are blocked on the internal network and the internal transfer tools are blocked from outside. Can't even pull the hard drive and copy the files from that because it's encrypted. How the hell does a fucking *drugstore* have better IT security than the NSA? Or, if the guy seriously managed to jump through that many hoops, he DAMN WELL knew he was doing something he shouldn't have, and it should be pretty damn easy to press charges.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 08 2017, @11:31AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 08 2017, @11:31AM (#578847)
        Smartphone? In some scenarios I've managed to bypass the USB blocks by using the phone's MTP transfer mode instead of USB mass storage mode.

        Network transfer?

        There's also audio if audio is allowed.

        Last but not least - if you can read contents of the files you can take pictures of them.
    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:27PM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06 2017, @04:27PM (#578094)

      yeah, just like the opm hack wasn't even a hack. it was our own government who outsourced the shit to the chinese then claimed "hack" when they copy pasted. the opm person who hired the chinese company probably did it on purpose.

      now these disgustingly stupid (or treasonous) pieces of shit put sensitive info on their fucking windows machines(hang em high) and whinge when kaspersky rightfully classifies their fucking malware as malware and uploads it to their threat database(just one possible guess. i'm not going to rtfa!).
      if they used malware then wtf did you expect you lazy fucking idiot?

      • (Score: 1) by i286NiNJA on Friday October 06 2017, @04:49PM (1 child)

        by i286NiNJA (2768) on Friday October 06 2017, @04:49PM (#578115)

        I'm astonished that the most elite hackers at the NSA run windows on their home work machines.

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Monday October 09 2017, @05:17PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Monday October 09 2017, @05:17PM (#579320)

          Intel told you about the Megatasker, here is the NSA version: playing $AAA_title_of_the_month and livestreaming it, while hacking its servers to get extra frags/gold.

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bart on Friday October 06 2017, @03:31PM (2 children)

    by bart (2844) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06 2017, @03:31PM (#578064)

    It's beyond doubt that the NSA, CIA and all the other 5 eyes crap spy on everyone's communication and data without any discretion or oversight whatsoever.

    Even if Kaspersky software would upload to the Russian government, I don't see any reason not to use it to protect your computer from malware. Maybe it will even block some of the NSA back-doors that were installed in your friendly Windows, Mac or Redhat systemd O.S.

    George Orwell got it right, only his date was a little off.

  • (Score: 2) by linkdude64 on Saturday October 07 2017, @06:15PM

    by linkdude64 (5482) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 07 2017, @06:15PM (#578629)

    I couldn't write a script to list the contents of a directory, and yet I build my PCs, or, if they are purchased, remove all bloatware from them.

    I am also aware of the massively insecure nature of antivirus programs, where complete and unfettered access to your machine is given without any oversight.

    Yet I am to believe that this TAO operative is less competent and aware of these things than I am?

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