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NSA, GCHQ scrutinize Kaspersky's software for security weaknesses

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June 23, 2015

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Britain's internet security agency GCHQ has been working with the National Security Agency to subvert anti-virus software, according to the latest leaked information from Edward Snowden.

It now appears that hackers may have reverse-engineered some software products in order to obtain some intelligence, a technique that will surely come as a shock to nobody.

Kaspersky Lab was singled out in the report, with the NSA and GCHQ paying special attention to analyzing its software for weaknesses.

Seven years ago, GCHQ released a search warrant which described Kaspersky software as an obstruction to its hacking operations and stated it needed to reverse engineer it to find various methods to neutralise the security issue.

Other companies were also targeted including BitDefender, ESET, Avast, AVG and F-Secure, among others.

But US-based vendors McAfee and Symantec and Britain-based Sophos were notable by their absence, however.

Provided under Section 5 of Britain’s 1994 Intelligence Services Act, the requested search warrant must be renewed by a government minister every 6 months, however.

The agency request seeks authorization for GCHQ's activities that involve modifying commercially available software to enable interception, decryption and other related tasks, or reverse engineering software.

In a statement regarding these revelations, Kaspersky called on security firms to work together to fight for user privacy and combat mass surveillance and other security problems.

It said-- "We find it extremely worrisome that government organizations are targeting security firms instead of focusing their resources against legitimate adversaries, and are actively working to subvert security software that is designed to keep us all safe."

"At Kaspersky Lab, we diligently work to protect all our users and to keep our whole product line secure through intense code review and security vulnerability assessment efforts. We are closely reviewing and investigating the information disclosed today in order to assess the potential level of risks it may pose to our infrastructure and how to effectively mitigate it."

Source: The U.S. National Security Agency.

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