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posted by martyb on Friday October 06, @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: 4, Insightful) by tibman on Friday October 06, @02:25PM (5 children)

    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06, @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.

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  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by urza9814 on Friday October 06, @03:51PM (1 child)

    by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Friday October 06, @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, @11:31AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 08, @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, @04:27PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday October 06, @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, @04:49PM (1 child)

      by i286NiNJA (2768) on Friday October 06, @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, @05:17PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Monday October 09, @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.