FORUM Finance

Jan 15 2019

Sanctions for offense: how the Kaspersky Lab left all US intelligence agencies in the cold

A blow to the American myth of ‘exclusivity’ As is known, in 2017, the United States began to impose personal sanctions against the “Kaspersky Lab”, accusing the company of “working with Russian spies”, but at the same time hid a curious fact from the public. As it turned out, “Kaspersky” a year before the sanctions provided the American side with an invaluable service: it exposed the massive embezzlement of intelligence and revealed violations that the American authorities could not find in their own country. In other words, in the middle of 2016, the Russian IT giant exposed 17 US intelligence agencies as complete fools. In view of this, it is not surprising that a year after the assistance was rendered, the company was in the center of a sanction scandal … Inflated opportunities As it became known recently, the US National Security Agency a few years ago faced a big and dangerous crisis. They found that someone over the past twenty years had stolen secret information from a department, other special services and other government agencies on 50 TB of volume. This was the largest diversion of non-public material in US history. All the power of the western intelligence community was thrown into the search for a daring ‘mole’; its own internal monitoring systems, the government, investigators, special agencies and federal services were involved. And in 2016, with great fanfare, it was announced to the whole country that one Harold Martin – a former employee of the NSA contracting company – was the culprit of the “big scam”. In total, the detainee received 10 years in prison for each of the 19 episodes imputed to him, that is, a total of about two centuries in prison. Senior members of the “chase” received medals, promotions, and the media smashed PR about how well the American special and law enforcement system worked. Suddenly, three years later, on January 9, 2019, thunder thundered on the pages of the authoritative publication Politico. With reference to sources in the American special services, the newspaper reported that Martina was not at all exposed by the American Themis, but by a single company from the sanctioned ‘hostile’ country of the United States. And she did it without any pump … “All these years we thought that Harold was caught thanks to the latest methods of American intelligence,” the media reports. ‘And now it turns out that this arrest looks like it proves that the special services of the United States are not suitable for anything.’ As it turned out, the “Hollywood” arrest of a former NSA contractor in 2016 occurred only because the Russian cybersecurity IT company indicated the United States to this threat. And she did it in a voluntary manner. On the trail of bread crumbs As soon as the world media sounded the news that someone had stolen about 500 million pages of secret documents, including data on US military operations, the Kaspersky Lab decided to conduct its own investigation. As a result, the Moscow company found on its servers several suspicious messages from the user under the name “HAL 999999999”. In a different situation, no one would pay attention to the letters with similar content and the posting ‘The offer expires – three weeks,’ if there are many jokes about the public company, but at that very moment the anonymous hacker group Shadow Brokers laid out the hacking tools, stolen earlier from the NSA. Online auction was announced on their quick sale. Assuming that the events described may be related, the Kaspersky employees went deeper into the question. A similar pseudonym was soon found on one of the foreign dating sites, whose profile contained a photo. In the picture, the Laboratory found a match with a certain Martin and information about his place of residence – Annapolis, Maryland. Then, on the social network Linkedin a page was found of a person named Hal Martin, who works in the field of information security. Having combined all this together, the company realized that it was necessary to add another fragment. Then it was decided to check one American corporation under the name Booz Allen Hamilton. She was noteworthy because she was also a contractor for the NSA and, moreover, it was there that the famous Edward Snowden worked at that time. The idea justified itself, and in the end the desired person showed up in the lists of its employees under the name Harold Martin. Apparently, the decision to transfer the findings to the US special services “Laboratory” pushed the idea that the company could prove its non-involvement in the Russian special services. To protect oneself from sanctions, showing that it does not violate US claims and does not threaten Washington. But they clearly did not understand what categories the White House really thinks. Own exclusivity syndrome On August 22, 2016, an employee of Kaspersky Lab contacted the NSA representative and handed him all the information collected on Martin, and on August 27, 2016, the FBI made an “unexpected” breakthrough. The suspect was caught. If Kaspersky and believed that

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