A new report details how Israel, while spying on Russia, realized that the nation was using a popular antivirus software to conduct espionage against the United States.
Israeli officials hacked into the network used by Kaspersky Lab and discovered that they had turned “the Kaspersky software into a sort of Google search for sensitive information,” according to The New York Times. The incident occurred more than two years ago. The Russian government utilized the Kaspersky antivirus program, which is used by 400 million people throughout the world, in order to steal classified documents from the home computer of a National Security Agency employee who had violated security rules by storing them.
Israel informed the United States government when it learned about Russia’s actions, although the government didn’t order Kaspersky software removed from their computers until last month.
“Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts,” the company said on Tuesday afternoon in a statement.
“Antivirus is the ultimate back door,” said former NSA operator and Area 1 Security co-founder Blake Darché. “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.”
This story is part of a larger trend in which the American government has seemed to react with excessive slowness to news of Russian sabotage. In June it was reported that President Barack Obama, despite knowing about President Vladimir Putin’s attempts to meddle in the 2016 presidential election since the previous August, decided to opt for a weaker response than many security officials thought was actually necessary.