It is now confirmed—the United States National Security Agency has been hit again by a cyber attack.
This time, a cyber security company linked to Russia is allegedly associated with the case.
Moscow-headquartered Kaspersky is a multinational company which has been given the tendering to provide anti-virus software programs to government agencies.
This also includes the national security agency, which has been entitled to the role of cybersecurity in the U.S.
The relationship between Russia and the U.S. has been hostile for the last few years. But the tension has particularly intensified following the recent allegations that the Russian government interfered with the U.S. voting system during last year’s presidential elections.
Though not confirmed, U.S. security organs have warned of a possible relationship between Russian hackers and a recent cyber attack involving sensitive NSA data. There has not been any formal communications from the Russian government side to respond to the allegation.
The attack is seen as a calculated move, given the U.S.’s order in September for all federal departments and agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their systems.
And earlier this year, offlicials from the Federal Beureau of Investigtaion even went so far as to encourage private sector companies to terminate their contracts with Kaspersky to avoid Russian-initiated cyber attacks.
Nonetheless, in the case of the recent cyber attack, NSA officials have been quick to point out where the breaches might have occurred.
It is alleged that a NSA employee brought his work computer home to update his resume. This is seen as a violation of one of the agency’s most key policies not to move anything out of the protected premises.
Taking advantage of the situation, a hacker allegedly intercepted the data update from the agency’s computer to the Russian company. This is a system loophole that was previously discovered by Google personnel.
The NSA believes that the hacker managed to obtain a number of files from the system. The files are alleged to contain information that is used by the agencies to penetrate to other networks to get intelligence data.
This is seen as a big blow to the U.S. security agency which is tasked with the role of protecting the country’s people from external cyber attacks.
The U.S. government has largely attributed the attack to Russian hackers and Kaspersky, an accusation that further contributes to the increasing tension between the two countries.
It may be seen as an act of complacency on the NSA’s side to wholly depend on a rival Russian company to provide a security tool in their systems. But on the other hand, the Russian counterparts may see it as a plus.
The files subject to the breach have rendered the NSA weak and at stake of being attacked by hackers easily.
Leaked files from the NSA have been frequent in recent years. This is seen as a weakness in the protocol to protect the files containing classified information.
As such, all the concerned agencies are working tirelessly to mitigate the effects of these cyber attacks.
The most notorious NSA leak happened in 2013 when a contractor by the name of Edward Snowden communicated classified data about federal intelligence practices to journalists.
This was not the only blow that the NSA has encountered, though. It was only last year when another contractor by the name Harold Martin was charged with a similar case. He was accused of carrying even larger classified files outside the protected premises.
Yet another controversial leak hit the NSA in 2016 when a hacking group called Shadow Brokers started leaking files pertaining to how the agency gathers intelligence. The data dumps contained computer codes that the NSA used to embed on systems in competing countries like China, Russia and others.
Regarding Kaspersky’s alleged involvement in the recent NSA hack, some third parties purport that the leak could not be entirely placed on the Russian company. This is because Kaspersky frequently scans files from the systems it serves and sends the relevant information to authorities for further scrutiny.
This leaves a lot of questions in the minds of U.S. citizens about whether the leak is related to the Russian government.
A national ban on the use of Kaspersky anti-virus software in almost all government organizations has been imposed. This is to work on the possible attack that might happen if the company continues to offer its services and if they are not reliable.
This is bare because the company seems to have an intermediary person that both parties are unaware of. It is suspected the hacker took advantage of a weak system loophole in the company’s system which he or she exploited and gained access, hence the leakage of the files.
The trust level has fallen in the recent times following this allegations. Most Americans are not able to trust this company as an anti-virus software provider; rather, they see it as a threat.
The level of hacking involved was a sophisticated one. This is with the understanding that communications between Kaspersky and its customers is by end-to-end encryption.
In a written response to the accusation, the Kaspersky executive team has argued they were not responsible for leaking the national security files. All this is a matter to be investigated and brought to book to avoid future problems.
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