Current and former United States officials with knowledge of the matter told The Wall Street Journal that the Kaspersky antivirus was used to perform secret searches for specific terms including "top secret", in addition to its usual antivirus scanning operations.
On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Israeli intelligence had hacked into the Kaspersky network and upon detecting the Russian intrusion, alerted the United States, which led to a decision last month for Kaspersky software to be removed from US government computers. This access could allow cyber-attacks against the US government.
Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said it has no evidence to support allegations Russian Federation had used antivirus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab to spy on the United States.
"Top secret" may be written on classified government documents, and that's how the antivirus software might have detected sensitive material.
Israeli spies warned U.S. intelligence that antivirus software employed by several American government agencies was being used by Kremlin-backed hackers to steal secrets (write Boer Deng and Anshel Pfeffer).
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"The government has not had and does not have any connection to such activity", he said.
There is a strong chance that Russian hackers had breached Kaspersky Lab's software without the cyber security company knowing it.
Eugene Kaspersky, a businessman and former Russian Defense Ministry official, founded Kaspersky Lab in 1997.
During the course of their hack, Russian officials reportedly managed to uncover hotels and conference venues used for meetings by members of the UN Security Council to discuss the terms of the nuclear deal with Iran.
"Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, for any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts, and contrary to erroneous reports, Kaspersky Lab software does not contain any undeclared capabilities such as backdoors as that would be illegal and unethical". "The company tracks more than 100 advanced persistent threat actors and operations, and for 20 years, Kaspersky Lab has been focused on protecting people and organizations from these cyber threats - its headquarters' location doesn't change that mission", the company explained. Washington lawmakers and the intelligence community have repeatedly said Russian Federation tried to influence the USA presidential election in 2016 through a targetted hacking campaign.