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Israeli spies found Russians using Kaspersky software for hacks

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According to media reports, Israeli intelligence officers that have been spying on the Russian government hackers reported Russia was using Kaspersky Lab antivirus software.

The Russian embassy in Washington last month called the ban on Kaspersky Lab software "regrettable" and said it delayed the prospects of restoring bilateral ties.

The BSI, which uses Kaspersky products, was responding to an article in The New York Times on Tuesday that detailed how Israeli intelligence had gained access to Russian government hackers' computers in 2014 and determined they were using the antivirus software to spy on the United States government.

The software is made by Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow firm that is under scrutiny amid allegations of aiding Kremlin-backed espionage.

Now, a new damning report says that the functionality discovered in the software could not have been put there without the company's knowledge.

Germany's BSI cyber agency confirmed Wednesday that there is no evidence whatsoever that security software maker Kaspersky Lab is in any way helping Russian officials, or engaged in any misconduct.

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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 Russian operatives were reportedly using a Kaspersky antivirus program, which is widely used to scan a computer for malicious files, as a quasi-search engine to scan for codenames of USA intelligence programs.

Kaspersky first noticed intrusion by Israel referenced in The New York Times story back in 2015, when it reported that "a sophisticated cyberespionage actor" had infiltrated its systems using code that resembled a previous attack. This access could allow cyber-attacks against the US government.

Eugene Kaspersky, the company's co-founder and chief executive, has repeatedly denied charges his company conducts espionage on behalf of the Russian government.

US intelligence agencies have determined that Russian President Vladimir Putin organized a vast digital influence operation to assist Donald Trump win the presidency, a charge Moscow still denies.

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