Israeli intelligence caught Russian spies attempting hack out classified American documents in computers across the globe, the New York Times reported. The Russians used a widely used antivirus program to effectively search millions of computers for documents from the FBI, the NSA, the CIA and other branches of government.
The antivirus program is made by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian cybersecurity firm.
Israeli intelligence officers hacked into Kaspersky’s network over two years ago, and were able to watch the Russians conduct international hacking efforts. They alerted U.S. officials to the attack, leading the government to ban the use of Kaspersky’s product in all federal executive branch agencies.
When Kaspersky released a report about the hack into its network, they noted its similarity to the “Stuxnet” attack, a virus created by Israeli and American intelligence and used to thwart Iran’s nuclear program.
Kaspersky’s signature software is used by both private individuals and government agencies around the world. The N.S.A. does not allow its analysts to use the product.
“Antivirus is the ultimate back door,” Blake Darché, a former N.S.A. operator, said. “It provides consistent, reliable and remote access that can be used for any purpose, from launching a destructive attack to conducting espionage on thousands or even millions of users.”