This software is used by 400 million people around the globe, including US government agencies, The New York Times reported that over two years ago Israeli officials had hacked into Kaspersky's network and then notified USA counterparts of the Russian intrusion.
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.
Following the discovery, several government agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Homeland Security, ordered the removal of all Kaspersky software from government devices, while the FBI also recommended private users to stop using the software too. It is unknown what other classified information Russian Federation was able to get their hands on through Kaspersky software.
There is a strong chance that Russian hackers had breached Kaspersky Lab's software without the cyber security company knowing it. Around 400 million people worldwide use the company's software. And given such Russian hacking operation were discovered some time ago, there's a chance that Kaspersky may have patched a backdoor, if it indeed existed, as part of its regular software updates.
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The current and former government officials who described the episode spoke about it on condition of anonymity because of classification rules, the Times said.
"The BSI has no evidence for misconduct by the company or weaknesses in its software", the German intelligence agency said in an emailed statement to Reuters.
Kaspersky Lab denied to the Times any knowledge of, or involvement in, the Russian hacking. Kaspersky has consistently been among the top handful of anti-malware makers in the world.
In mid-2015, Kaspersky detected an intrusion in its network and revealed it in a public report, but did not name Israel as the intruder. Kaspersky dubbed the effort "Duqu 2.0" and drew a connection between methods used in the new intrusion and those employed by Stuxnet, a cyber weapon developed for use against Iran by the US and Israel. Eugene Kaspersky, the company's co-founder and chief executive, continues to deny accusations that the company practices espionage on behalf of the Russian government.