Kaspersky: Document Upload Was Accident Borne of Carelessness

Sometime in 2014, a group of analysts walked into the office of Eugene Kaspersky, the ebullient founder of Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, to deliver some sobering news.

Kaspersky's anti-virus software had automatically scraped powerful digital surveillance tools off a computer in the United States and the analysts were worried: The data's headers clearly identified the files as classified.

"They immediately came to my office," Kaspersky [seen here] recalled, "and they told me that they have a problem."

He said there was no hesitation about what to do with the cache.

"It must be deleted," Kaspersky says he told them.

The incident, recounted by Kaspersky during a brief telephone interview on Tuesday and supplemented by a timeline and other information provided by company officials, could not immediately be corroborated. But it's the first public acknowledgement of a story that has been building for the past three weeks -- that Kaspersky's popular anti-virus program uploaded powerful digital espionage tools belonging to the National Security Agency from a computer in the United States and sent them to servers in Moscow.

The account provides new perspective on the U.S. government's recent move to blacklist Kaspersky from federal computer networks, even if it still leaves important questions unanswered.

To hear Kaspersky tell it, the incident was an accident borne of carelessness.

Analysts at his company were already on the trail of the Equation Group -- a powerful group of hackers later exposed as an arm of the NSA -- when a computer in the United States was flagged for further investigation. The machine's owner, identified in media reports as an NSA worker, had run anti-virus scans on their home computer after it was infected by a pirated copy of Microsoft Office, according to a Kaspersky timeline released Wednesday.

The scan didn't just treat the infection. It also triggered an alert for Equation Group...

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