Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

NSA and GCHQ attacked antivirus software so that they could spy on people, leaks indicate

Published 24/06/2015

The Government spy agency GCHQ in Cheltenham
The Government spy agency GCHQ in Cheltenham

US and UK spy agencies worked to subvert anti-virus and security software so that they could read the messages of their citizens, according to new leaks.

Both the NSA and GCHQ have long been said to have deliberately reversed engineer software so that they could find weaknesses in software and exploit them to read communications.

But new documents show that the agencies did so to some of the most popular antivirus software, potentially exposing hundreds of millions of people to dangerous viruses, according to a report from The Intercept.

The agencies reverse engineered Kaspersky antivirus software so that they could see how it worked and ensure that it didn’t keep them from looking through computers, according to the report. They also looked through emails that had been sent to the company flagging up viruses and vulnerabilities, the Intercept reported.

Antivirus software picks up dangerous code of various kinds, including malware that looks what people are typing and doing that is often made by states as well as criminals. Attacking such software may have allowed the agencies to keep it from recognising threats from governments, as well as exploiting known vulnerabilities to get in.

Software like Kaspersky also runs with higher privileges on a computer — because it must have access to the whole system to ensure that it is kept safe, another person like a criminal or a government having access to it could use that to infiltrate the computer at a deep and dangerous level.

GCHQ obtained a warrant for the reverse engineering because it might otherwise be considered “unlawful”, according to The Intercept, which saw the details of the request for permission in files leaked by Edward Snowden. The Intercept says that the warrant is “legally questionable on several grounds”.

Independent

Further reading

Wikileaks: US 'spied on French presidents Jacques Chirac, Nicolas Sarkozy and Francois Hollande'  

Freedom Act: US law limits snooping as UK gears up to make its spies far more powerful

Edward Snowden: NSA still collecting everybody's information including your d**k pics

GCHQ mass internet surveillance was unlawful, secret court rules

Edward Snowden shuns iPhones due to secret software that can be remotely activated to spy on people, says lawyer

UK government rewrites surveillance law to get away with hacking and allow cyber attacks, campaigners claim

Net police: Plans to allow cops to vet internet communications

Snoopers' charter set to return to law as Theresa May suggests Conservative majority could lead to huge increase in surveillance powers  

FREAK security flaw: Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade

Sim card maker Gemalto says it was hacked by GCHQ and NSA but claims encryption keys are safe

'Prosecute spies who abuse powers'

Wikimedia Foundation sues NSA over mass surveillance programme

Mass surveillance of UK citizens on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Google is legal, says government’s top anti-terror chief Charles Farr

Facebook status updates and Twitter posts intercepted by UK Government  

Vodafone: governments use secret wires to listen to all conversations on mobile network  

Snooping tools GCHQ could use to hack your phone's microphone, camera and keypad: Nosey Smurf, Gumfish and Foggybottom

52% wary of expressing their views online, one in three do not feel free from government surveillance

GCHQ ‘using online viruses and honey traps to discredit targets’  

GCHQ given access to US 'Dishfire' system that reads hundreds of millions of text messages from around the world, according to NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden

NSA can spy on computers not connected to internet using radio waves

BT 'refuses to deny data handover'

GCHQ 'harvested webcam images'  

GCHQ ‘using online viruses and honey traps to discredit targets’  

Spymasters swoop on Angry Birds

US bid to stop spying on its spying  

Obama vows NSA phone data reform

GCHQ given access to US 'Dishfire' system that reads hundreds of millions of text messages from around the world, according to NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden

Internet founder hails Snowden  

Snowden gives TV Christmas message

NSA and GCHQ agents acted as elves and gnomes to spy on gamers using World of Warcraft and Second Life

Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales: Edward Snowden is a hero  

NSA spied on pornography use and ‘online promiscuity’ as part of plan to discredit those with radical views, according to leaked documents

GCHQ ran hotel surveillance ring to spy on diplomats and delegations

GCHQ set up fake LinkedIn pages to spy on mobile phone giants using 'Quantum Insert' technique

Google engineers on NSA and GCHQ surveillance: "F*** these guys"

Germany demands explanation from British ambassador Simon McDonald over GCHQ's 'secret listening post in the heart of Berlin'

Britain’s GCHQ has ‘secret listening post in the heart of Berlin to eavesdrop on the seat of German power'

Civil liberties groups claim British spy agency GCHQ broke European laws by hacking millions of citizens’ internet data

Independent News Service

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Read More