Russian hackers managed to steal sensitive files from the home computer of an NSA contractor who used Kaspersky Lab's antivirus, according to the The Wall Street Journal. The revelation sheds light on the secretive reasons behind the US government ban of Kaspersky Lab products, and former NSA hackers I spoke to said they weren't surprised by the story, saying that it could explain rumors of a leaker at the NSA that have swirled for a year.
On Thursday, the Journal reported that in 2015 Russian hackers identified sensitive NSA files on the home computer of an NSA contractor thanks to their use of Kaspersky Lab antivirus, which apparently detected samples of NSA files on the contractor's computer. According to the report, the hackers detected that the contractor had files it deemed valuable because the contractor used the Kaspersky antivirus software on their computer. The Journal didn't provide details on exactly how the hackers retrieved those files, whether Kaspersky was aware its software was being used this way, or if it alerted the Russian government to these findings.
The breach wasn't identified until 2016, according to the report. If true, this is the third major breach of sensitive information from the NSA after contractors Edward Snowden and Harold Martin took files outside of the spy agency's buildings.
Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of the eponymous company, dismissed the new report.