U.S. and British spies targeted antivirus companies

Now newly published documents released by Edward Snowden show that the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, were years ahead of Israel and had engaged in a systematic campaign to target not only Kaspersky software but the software of other antivirus and security firms as far back as 2008.

The documents, published today by The Intercept, don’t describe actual computer breaches against the security firms, but instead depict a systematic campaign to reverse-engineer their software in order to uncover vulnerabilities that could help the spy agencies subvert it. The British spy agency regarded the Kaspersky software in particular as a hindrance to its hacking operations and sought a way to neutralize it.

“Personal security products such as the Russian anti-virus software Kaspersky continue to pose a challenge to GCHQ’s CNE [Computer Network Exploitation] capability,” reads one of the documents, “and SRE [software reverse-engineering] is essential in order to be able to exploit such software and to prevent detection of our activities.”