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Russian government hackers stole information on how the US infiltrates foreign computers and defends itself against cyberattacks, The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday.
The hackers were able to steal the information after a National Security Agency contractor took highly classified information from the agency and put it on his personal computer, multiple sources with knowledge told the Journal.
The contractor was using antivirus software made by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab, the sources said, which was how the hackers were able to target the contractor.
The Journal reported that the incident occurred in 2015 but wasn’t uncovered until last year.
In a statement to Business Insider, Kaspersky Lab said it had not “been provided any evidence substantiating the company’s involvement in the alleged incident reported by the Wall Street Journal … and it is unfortunate that news coverage of unproven claims continue to perpetuate accusations about the company.”
The company denied having any “inappropriate ties” to the Russian government, adding that “the only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.”
“We make no apologies for being aggressive in the battle against malware and cybercriminals,” the company said. “The company actively detects and mitigates malware infections, regardless of the source, and we have been proudly doing so for 20 years, which has led to continuous top ratings in independent malware detection tests. It’s also important to note that Kaspersky Lab products adhere to the cybersecurity industry’s strict standards and have similar levels of access and privileges to the systems they protect as any other popular security vendor in the US and around the world.”
As the Journal reported, the massive breach is the first such known incident believed to have involved Kaspersky software, Russian hackers, and espionage against the US.
The revelation comes as multiple US investigations into Russian efforts to affect last year’s presidential election have ramped up.
Natasha Bertrand contributed to this report.