Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

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
7 Truths About BEC Scams
Ericka Chickowski, Contributing Writer,  6/13/2019
DNS Firewalls Could Prevent Billions in Losses to Cybercrime
Curtis Franklin Jr., Senior Editor at Dark Reading,  6/13/2019
Cognitive Bias Can Hamper Security Decisions
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  6/10/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
Building and Managing an IT Security Operations Program
As cyber threats grow, many organizations are building security operations centers (SOCs) to improve their defenses. In this Tech Digest you will learn tips on how to get the most out of a SOC in your organization - and what to do if you can't afford to build one.
Flash Poll
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
The State of IT Operations and Cybersecurity Operations
Your enterprise's cyber risk may depend upon the relationship between the IT team and the security team. Heres some insight on what's working and what isn't in the data center.
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-12855
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-16
In words.protocols.jabber.xmlstream in Twisted through 19.2.1, XMPP support did not verify certificates when used with TLS, allowing an attacker to MITM connections.
CVE-2013-7472
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
The "Count per Day" plugin before 3.2.6 for WordPress allows XSS via the wp-admin/?page=cpd_metaboxes daytoshow parameter.
CVE-2019-12839
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In OrangeHRM 4.3.1 and before, there is an input validation error within admin/listMailConfiguration (txtSendmailPath parameter) that allows authenticated attackers to achieve arbitrary command execution.
CVE-2019-12840
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
In Webmin through 1.910, any user authorized to the "Package Updates" module can execute arbitrary commands with root privileges via the data parameter to update.cgi.
CVE-2019-12835
PUBLISHED: 2019-06-15
formats/xml.cpp in Leanify 0.4.3 allows for a controlled out-of-bounds write in xml_memory_writer::write via characters that require escaping.