Kaspersky came under fire in recent history over potential shady ties to the Russian government; however, with a twist of events, it appears that Kaspersky Lab may have assisted the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) in capturing an alleged data thief.
Back in late August of 2016, U.S. authorities had arrested Harold T. Martin III, and then indicted him in February of 2017 on 20 counts of unauthorized and willful retention of national defense information and data. This is after a tip from the Moscow-based security firm had led authorities directly to his doorstep, according to Politico.
An anonymous Twitter user sent five cryptic, private messages to two Kaspersky researchers on 8/13/2016 just 30 minutes before
the Shadow Brokers began dumping classified NSA tools online. This user is believed to have been Martin. These messages asked the recipients to possibly arrange a conversation with the company’s CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, without giving any particular reason or the topic of the conversation, and it implied a sense of urgency. This suggests the request or reason behind it would have only been relevant for a limited or specific amount of time.
The messages, coupled with other clues obtained by Kaspersky, linked the Twitter account to Martin and some of his work in the U.S. intelligence community. This led researchers to believe he may have been involved with the NSA leak. Kaspersky researchers had reported the incident to the NSA, and this eventually led to an investigation and then Martin’s arrest.
A Kaspersky spokeswoman declined to confirm the company’s involvement in the case, but an anonymous source mentioned that the company gave the NSA all five Twitter messages sent and evidence of Martin’s real identity, which was used to obtain warrants against Martin, according to court documents.
This is a twist of events in that the United States government has repeatedly reported Russian ties between Kaspersky and the Russian government.
Martin is set to go to trial in June and each of the charges against him carry up to 10 years in prison.