KASPERSKY HAS ANNOYED the US once again by revealing a terrorism-targeted spying operation with the reveal of the state-sponsored Slingshot spyware.
At least that's according to Cyberscoop, which claims to have learned that Slingshot is an active, US-led cyber espionage operation designed for counterterrorism.
The reveal of Slingshot means Kaspersky has basically burned the US operation, which was found to have cropped up in conflict zones and areas of operation for ISIS including Afghanistan, Iran, Sudan and Somalia.
Kaspersky didn't speculate which nation-state may have been behind the spyware. But Cyberscoop was apparently told by both current and former US intelligence officials that Slingshot is a US military program run by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC).
Slingshot reportedly allowed US intelligence and military to collect information about terrorists by snooping on computers they regularity used. Slingshot was also used to snoop on internet cafe traffic in developing countries as terrorist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda are known to use them to communicate.
For the US intelligence community, the discovery and reveal of Slingshot will be a kick in the teeth, as well as motivation to come up with even more advanced cyber spying tools. For Kaspersky, it'll likely increase the tensions between the Russian company and the US.
The US government banned Kaspersky anti-virus software and services from its departments due to concerns the company could be using its software to spy on the Kremlin's behalf.
Kaspersky has refuted such claims, with chief exec Eugene Kaspersky accepting an invitation to testify to US Congress about his company's lack of relationship with the Russian government, and even said h would offer up the company's source code and that the firm would quit Russia if asked to spy for the nation.
In the latest move, Kaspersky has revealed plans to open a data centre in Switzerland to combat US concerns over its potential to aid Russian spying.
And the reveal of Slingshot was likely just regular exploit and security probing cybersecurity companies do, rather than a research operation to leave US intelligence feeling a little red-faced.
Nevertheless, the reveal of Slingshot will likely see the operation get shutdown by the US.
"SOP [standard operating procedure] is to kill it all with fire once you get caught," said a former intelligence official to Cyberscoop. "It happens sometimes and we're accustomed to dealing with it. But it still sucks … I can tell you this didn't help anyone."
The last bit is particularly interesting, as it opens up the question of snooping for the greater good. But in Kaspersky's case, it has no loyalties to the US or indeed anywhere else; Kaspersky is likely only loyal to its customers and the security world so its reveal of Slingshot was likely done with that missive in mind.
But knowing the US, it'll probably have another snooping operation up in no time or tap into the capabilities of global BFF Britain, which is no stranger to government snooping. µ
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