Kaspersky releases preliminary report on espionage accusations

Kaspersky releases preliminary report on espionage accusations
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Kaspersky Lab released a preliminary report on its investigation into charges of espionage Wednesday.

The Moscow-based cybersecurity firm found that classified United States hacking tools discovered by its antivirus program were found on a National Security Agency contractor's computer because the antivirus software is designed to discover and protect from malware.

The company has seen its software banned from U.S. federal systems and faced lawmakers' criticisms against the firm in recent weeks due to its alleged use in espionage operations.

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According to media reports, Israeli intelligence forces alerted the U.S. that Russian spies coopted the file-scanning system Kaspersky Lab's antivirus program uses to detect malware to recognize phrases like "top secret" and steal those files.

That tactic discovered classified files on the system of a government contractor modifying NSA hacking tools who took those tools home to work on.

Kaspersky's investigation claims there were far more mundane reasons for discovering those tools. Kaspersky and all modern antivirus programs protect against all known government threats in addition to criminal ones. The NSA contractor, said the report, possessed malware the lab was already familiar with, leading the program to upload related suspicious files to its system for investigation. 

The same process would have been followed by any antivirus program. 

"The investigation confirmed that Kaspersky Lab has never created any detection of non-weaponized (non-malicious) documents in its products based on keywords like 'top secret' and 'classified,' " the report said. 

The preliminary investigation was released hours before a House Science Committee hearing on possible threats posed by Kaspersky Labs software. 

Kaspersky has adamantly denied all espionage charges and announced a transparency program on Monday to reassure its users that it was not knowingly being used in espionage.

According to the report, the user ran a deep scan of his computer after Kaspersky Lab downloaded malware-laced software designed to pirate Microsoft Office.