Last year there was an interesting case where the the US government banned all software products made by Kaspersky Lab. Currently, these products are not allowed on any government computers. This has badly damaged Kaspersky’s reputation and caused it considerable grief.
This week, in a surprising twist, Politico reports that Kaspersky Lab helped government investigators. Apparently, Kaspersky is the source of crucial information that led investigators to a former NSA contractor accused of stealing an enormous cache of classified material.
As a result, the F.B.I. arrested Harold Martin, a former NSA contractor, as it investigated whether he took home over 50 Terabytes of data from the NSA and possibly leaked source code to NSA hacking tools.
Most importantly, this happened after the 2013 Snowden case. Everyone would assume that the government would tightened after this case. But apparently, it was still possible for a contractor to keep a few important files.
“Harold T. Martin III was arrested in October of 2016. Prosecutors claim that Martin took unauthorized possession of thousands of pages of documents and “many terabytes” of data belonging to the NSA. Much of the information Martin allegedly had at his home in Maryland was classified. As a contractor for consulting company Booz Allen Hamilton, he did contract work for the NSA and Defense Department. Citing two sources with knowledge of the investigation, Politico reports that it was Kaspersky Lab that flagged suspicious activity by Hamilton to the NSA.”
When you read further, there are some things about Martin’s arrest that don’t make sense. Like the fact that he was using his drivers license picture for his “anonymous” twitter account. This seems odd for someone who was once a part of an NSA elite hacking unit. This is what makes it seem like it might be a part of a setup.
Also, the connect to the Shadow Brokers seems unusual. Around the same time they released several stolen NSA hacking tools for sale. This story just feels like I am watching a Hollywood movie.
So what does all of this mean to you? At this point, I don’t think it would be wise recommending Kaspersky Lab products to people.
It is also possible that someone may have had a score to settle with Kaspersky. It does look like Kaspersky, which has generally been well-regarded in the cyber-security community, may have done nothing wrong.
Similarly, it is possible that Martin was setup. He may be a fall guy. It is hard to know from the information currently available. Am I the only one who thinks it is odd that these two cases are related?
It makes me wonder who made the most money off the Kaspersky ban and who had the most to gain by them being accused of ties to Russian intelligence. I also wonder if someone had a grudge against Martin.
When things smell fishy there is often a fish nearby and international intrigue is all over this case. It will be interesting to see if anyone ever finds out the true story.
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Mitch Comstock is the founder and CEO of Legendary Computers, a computer repair and service company in Franklin, TN. Legendary Computers serves Williamson County and Nashville including Brentwood, Cool Springs, Antioch, and Spring Hill and offers on-site computer service, remote computer assistance, and in-shop computer repairs for both residential and small business customers.
Mitch has spent the last 25 years helping small business owners with technology. When he’s not working to improve his own business, Mitch draws on his extensive small business knowledge and expertise to help other business owners improve their companies. Mitch lives in Spring Hill, Tennessee with his wife and their 4 sons.