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Israel played key role in unearthing Russian cyber-espionage in US: report

Moscow-based internet security giant Kaspersky has estimated that there are over 1,000 hackers in Russia specialising in financial crime
Kirill Kudryavtsev (AFP/File)
While in the midst of its own hack, Israel discovered an attempted penetration of the US gov't, report says

Israel unearthed attempts from within a global civilian cybersecurity company to steal United States government secrets for Russia, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Last month the US government ordered all its branches to remove any software from Russian-based cybersecurity giant Kaspersky Lab, accusing the firm of ties to Moscow's intelligence apparatus. The company vigorously denied the allegations.

On Wednesday the Times reported that the US was tipped off about the company by Israel -- which had itself hacked Kaspersky and was monitoring its activities in real time.

Israel observed attempts by Russian government hackers to piggyback on Kaspersky's some 20-plus government clients to hunt for classified American intelligence programs, the report claimed.

In 2015, Kaspersky revealed in a public report that it had discovered an intruder lurking in its systems, but Wednesday was the first time that Israel was definitively named as the culprit.

The Times cited multiple sources for their account, but did not state whether they were Israeli, American or of another nationality.

The Moscow-based company, whose range of products are reportedly used by around 400 million people globally, said it was not responsible for the alleged cyber-espionage.

“Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber-espionage efforts,” the company said in a statement quoted by the Times "any relevant, verifiable information that would enable the company to begin an investigation at the earliest opportunity.”

It has repeatedly denied having anything more than correct business ties to the Kremlin, saying it is "caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight."

However US officials have said that the company is either collaborating with the Vladimir Putin's intelligence machine, or is being hijacked by it.

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