Israel played key role in Russian cyber-espionage scandal

And late last month, the US National Intelligence Council completed a classified report that it shared with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies concluding that Russia's FSB intelligence service had "probable access" to Kaspersky Lab customer databases and source code, the Post reported.

Exactly how the Russian used Kaspersky's software was not detailed by The New York Times, which also said the Israelis alerted the USA to the Russian activity which led to the current United States ban on software from the Russian firm being used in government agencies.

According to officials involved, the Russians managed to hack into the home computer of an employee at the National Security Agency (NSA) through the anti-virus software installed on it and steal improperly stored classified documents.

Israel notified the NSA, where alarmed officials immediately began a hunt for the breach, according to individuals familiar with the matter, who said an investigation by the agency revealed that the tools were in the possession of the Russian government.

In 2015, Israeli government hackers saw something suspicious in the computers of a Moscow-based cybersecurity firm: hacking tools that could only have come from the National Security Agency.

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Israeli intelligence officials spying on hackers linked to the Russian government found that one of their target's favorite tools was Kaspersky Lab's antivirus software, which is used by 400 million people around the world, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

"Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties to any government, including Russian Federation, and it is unfortunate that news coverage continues to report anonymously-sourced claims, despite these sources not presenting the journalists any evidence to back up their accusations", the company said in a statement Tuesday. Only last month it was decided that Kaspersky Anti-Virus software would be removed from all U.S. government computers.

Big American retailers Best Buy and Office Depot have taken Kaspersky Lab products off their shelves in the wake of a US Government ban on the use of the same in federal agencies.

Eugene Kaspersky, the company's co-founder and chief executive, has repeatedly denied charges his company conducts espionage on behalf of the Russian government.

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