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Putin has 'accessed Western cyber security secrets since late 1990s'

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Russian authorities have enjoyed access to Western cybersecurity secrets since 1996, it has been revealed. reports citing Express, Russia’s federal security service (FSB) has deceptively lured western technology companies into providing them with access to their secrets – and requests have increased since 2014, a Reuter investigation has found.

The FSB has been blamed for a number of cyber attacks including Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign and the 2014 hack of 500 million Yahoo email accounts.

Published records show from 1996 to 2013, the FSB conducted source code reviews as part of approvals for 13 technology products from Western companies. In the past three years alone it reportedly carried out 28 reviews.

The FSB initially asked technology companies for access to the source codes as a condition for receiving approval to export and sell their security products – including anti-virus software – in Russia.

The Kremlin claimed the requests are done to ensure foreign spy agencies have not hidden any "backdoors" that would allow them to burrow into Russian systems.

A former senior Commerce Department official said he has direct knowledge of the interaction between US companies and Russian officials until he left office this year.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity he told Reuters: "It's something we have a real concern about.

"You have to ask yourself what it is they are trying to do, and clearly they are trying to look for information they can use to their advantage to exploit, and that's obviously a real problem."

Firms including Cisco, IBM and SAP are all acceding demands from the former soviet state.

While a number of US firms say they are playing ball to preserve their entrance to Russia's huge tech market, at least one US firm, Symantec, said it had stopped cooperating with the source code reviews over security concerns.

Defending her companies choice to withdraw from the Russian deal, spokeswoman Kristen Batch said on behalf of Symantec: “We decided the protection of our customer base through the deployment of uncompromised security products was more important than pursuing an increase in market share in Russia.”

Although a defiant Putin has always been keen to slap down rumours of cyber hacking.

US officials say they have warned firms about the risks of allowing the Russians to review their products' source code, because of fears it could lead to increased cyber attacks.

The news comes as the US Senate has said the Russian cyber attack on the US electoral system during the presidential campaign was far more widespread than previously revealed with most states targeted.

Although one anonymous US source speculated to Bloomberg that despite the months of hacking the attackers may not have gained access to vital information.

2017.06.24 / 18:59
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