Attacks/Breaches

10/6/2017
02:30 PM
Connect Directly
Google+
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Russian Hackers Targeted NSA Employee's Home Computer

New reports today say it was a National Security Agency employee, not a a contractor, whose home machine running Kaspersky Lab antivirus was hacked for classified files.

New reports on the latest NSA classified data breach revealed yesterday paint the source of the leak as an actual employee of the spy agency, not a contractor, as was originally reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The Washington Post in its reporting described the NSA employee who loaded classified NSA files onto his home computer that in turn was hacked by Russian cyber spies in 2015, as a Vietnam-born US citizen who had been part of the NSA's famed Tailored Access Operations (TAO) hacking team. The employee, who was removed from his position in 2015, was working on a project to create new TAO tools in the wake of former NSA contractor's Edwards Snowden's theft and leak of TAO tools in 2013; the new tools were among the files pilfered by Russian nation-state hackers.

A New York Times report also characterized the targeted man as an NSA employee.

Word of the breach first came yesterday in a Wall Street Journal report, which said the hack of classified cyberattack and defense tools occurred via Kaspersky Lab antivirus software on the NSA employee's home computer, where the AV flagged the NSA cyberspying tools and code. The breach wasn't detected until the spring of 2016, and wasn't known publicly until the WSJ report.

Security experts say the reports raise more questions than answers about how the attack actually occurred. Matthieu Suiche, founder of Comae Technologies and an expert on the mysterious Shadow Brokers group, points out that it apparently took the NSA six months to discover the incident.

Suiche told Dark Reading that it's "hard to say" if there's a connection to the NSA exploits held and leaked by Shadow Brokers. He says he's unclear how investigators tied the NSA data leak to the Kaspersky Lab software specifically, and whether the attacker had an exploit for the AV software.

"It can be a man-in-the-middle or even vulnerability itself" used to steal the files, he notes.

Read the Post's latest on the breach here.

Join Dark Reading LIVE for two days of practical cyber defense discussions. Learn from the industry’s most knowledgeable IT security experts. Check out the INsecurity agenda here.

Kelly Jackson Higgins is Executive Editor at DarkReading.com. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Higher Education: 15 Books to Help Cybersecurity Pros Be Better
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Worst Password Blunders of 2018 Hit Organizations East and West
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  12/12/2018
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon Contest
Current Issue
10 Best Practices That Could Reshape Your IT Security Department
This Dark Reading Tech Digest, explores ten best practices that could reshape IT security departments.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2018-20161
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
A design flaw in the BlinkForHome (aka Blink For Home) Sync Module 2.10.4 and earlier allows attackers to disable cameras via Wi-Fi, because incident clips (triggered by the motion sensor) are not saved if the attacker's traffic (such as Dot11Deauth) successfully disconnects the Sync Module from the...
CVE-2018-20159
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
i-doit open 1.11.2 allows Remote Code Execution because ZIP archives are mishandled. It has an upload feature that allows an authenticated user with the administrator role to upload arbitrary files to the main website directory. Exploitation involves uploading a ".php" file within a "...
CVE-2018-20157
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-15
The data import functionality in OpenRefine through 3.1 allows an XML External Entity (XXE) attack through a crafted (zip) file, allowing attackers to read arbitrary files.
CVE-2018-20154
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
The WP Maintenance Mode plugin before 2.0.7 for WordPress allows remote authenticated users to discover all subscriber e-mail addresses.
CVE-2018-20155
PUBLISHED: 2018-12-14
The WP Maintenance Mode plugin before 2.0.7 for WordPress allows remote authenticated subscriber users to bypass intended access restrictions on changes to plugin settings.