Today I take a temporary break from my current [Chase vs Trotsky] series — in order to bring you this BREAKING NEWS report from VZGLIAD, by reporters Marina Baltachova and Mikhail Moshkin. Baltachova and Moshkin interviewed several cyber-security experts about the recent Wikileaks expose that CIA-produced computer viruses have impersonated the Public Key Certificates of the company owned by Russian computer scientist and cyber-security expert Evgeny (Eugene) Kaspersky. Kaspersky is the founder and CEO of the Kaspersky Lab, a suite of anti-virus softwares. Kaspersky is a math genius and a successful businessman, with a net worth of around $1 billion. His anti-virus software has a good reputation as the best in its class. Kaspersky is a also a militant advocate for an international treaty banning cyber-warfare. Something which is sorely needed in our world, apparently.
For the past couple of years, as part of their new Cold War against Russia, the American government have blasted Kaspersky with propaganda attacks that could be construed as libelous. They accuse him of being an agent of the Russian intelligence services, and of using his anti-virus software to hack into other peoples machines. In other words, accusing him of doing EXACTLY WHAT THEY HAVE BEEN DOING, as the Wikileaks shows.
As a talented youngster growing up in the Soviet Union, Kaspersky attended KGB Technical College, graduating in 1987 with a degree in mathematical engineering and computer science, then serving for the next 4 years in Soviet military intelligence, as a software engineer. This gave him a good basis for his future endeavors, not to mention a network of connections with many other talented engineers, but also made him vulnerable to American accusations that he continues to function as a Russian secret agent:
In May 2017 (…) US National Security Agency (NSA) director Mike Rogers told a US Senate Intelligence committee that the NSA was reviewing the US government’s use of Kaspersky software for fear it would allow Russian intelligence services to conduct spy operations or launch cyber attacks against American digital infrastructure. ABC reported that the Department of Homeland Security had issued a secret report in February on possible connections between Kaspersky Lab and Russian intelligence, and that the FBI was currently investigating the matter. According to Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director Vincent Stewart, his agency is “tracking Kaspersky and their software.” (Kaspersky’s wiki page)
Kaspersky denies these charges, and denies having any connections with any governments, let alone doing their bidding. And, as the recent Wikileaks revelations show, when the DIA claimed to be “tracking” Kaspersky’s software, they were actually impersonating it.
The Hive: A Virus With An Interface
Two days ago, November 9, Wikileaks published the source code of a CIA-designed computer program called “Hive“. The purpose of Hive is to network and control malware-infected computers, enabling the sick computers to communicate with each other while they steal data from honest citizens and companies. The above link explains how it works. The Kaspersky connection, according to Wikileaks, is that Hive used Kaspersky Certificates, among other, to impersonate other products. It doesn’t seem like Hive was directed against Kaspersky, per se, just used him as a convenient scapegoat to conceal their own cyber-crimes, I quote the relevant Wikileaks paragraph:
“Digital certificates for the authentication of implants are generated by the CIA impersonating existing entities. The three examples included in the source code build a fake certificate for the anti-virus company Kaspersky Laboratory, Moscow pretending to be signed by Thawte Premium Server CA, Cape Town. In this way, if the target organization looks at the network traffic coming out of its network, it is likely to misattribute the CIA exfiltration of data to uninvolved entities whose identities have been impersonated.”
To put in layman’s terms: A digital certificate, also known as a “Public Key Certificate” is defined as an electronic “passport” owned by a person, a computer, or an organization. Except that a passport is just something that you show, whereas a digital certificate is more like those credit cards with embedded chips, because it contains a key identifying the card as belonging to you, and only to you. So, the Kaspersky Lab company has a digital certificate which gets stamped onto all its transactions. What the Wikileak hack of “Hive” shows is that the CIA virus-networking program was impersonating Kaspersky (and others). Committing their crimes in the names and persona of somebody else. Like thief Bob wearing an “Alice” mask while robbing the bank, so the bank will think it was Alice who robbed them, when they check the videotapes.
A very clever scheme it was, and the CIA would have got away with it too, if it wasn’t for those pesky Wikileaks kids and their big goofy Morlock-haired leader.
Russian Reaction To the News
After this breaking news and amazing revelations of CIA duplicity (“Lordy, who would’ve thunk it!”), Kaspersky hastened to reassure his customers that their data was safe, given that the issue was forgery of certificates: “Our clients, personal keys, and servers are safe, they have not been touched.” Showing that Kaspersky’s first concern is for his reputation, his customers and his clients, and not so much dancing a jig at the CIA’s expense.
The intrepid VZGLIAD reporters interviewed German (Herman) Klimenko, Advisor to President Putin on issues of internet security, seeking his reaction to this story. Klimenko confirmed that it was “plausible” the CIA had used this forgery method to conceal the origin of the viruses which they themselves had introduced into networks, in order to steal data.
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin’s reaction was even more blunt: “Guess who was telling us these fairy tales about Russian hackers? Those hackers are Russians like I am a ballerina at the Bolshoi Theater.”
How Can We Protect Ourselves From CIA Hackers?
This expose is just the latest in a series of juicy exposes from Wikileaks. Back in March this freedom-loving organization published a packet labelled “Year Zero” containing almost 9,000 documents and files hacked from the CIA’s computers in Langley, Virginia. The leaks show the CIA creating, and possibly losing control over, tons of viruses, Trojan horses, parasitic worms, and other disgusting software critters which have infested the entire internet. And, as always, the Americans point the finger at Russia, blame Russia and “Russian hackers” for everything that goes wrong, including their own crimes.
According to Dmitry Zavalishin, cyber-security expert and founder of the company DZ Systems, “the issuing of [public key] certificates is centered mainly in the U.S.” And the market for products ensuring the safety of certificates, is also highly dependent on the economic infrastructure of the U.S. Yet the recent exposes have shown that it is not safe to rely on the American products or infrastructure. Zavalishin proposes finding a way to rescue the infrastructure of public key certificates out from under the American government; and make this process genuinely international.
According to Denis Davydov, Director of a Russian organization called “League for a Secure Internet”, the Wikileaks documents, along with Edward Snowden’s revelations, “leave not a shadow of doubt concerning the true aim of the USA — namely, to gain global control over all of cyberspace.” Davydov notes a hightened interest on the part of the U.S. to squeeze Kaspersky products off the American market, as part of their aggressive attempt to miitarize cyberspace and neutralize defensive countermeasures to their virus attacks. Davydov partially concurs with Zavalishin’s proposal, but believes it will not be an easy task to create a new international Standards organization that is universally trusted. And, realistically, aside from Russia or China, none of the countries in the world are capable (or maybe even willing) of protecting themselves from American hacking. When one is a hostage, sometimes it is easier just to give in to one’s captors.