NSA, GCHQ have made evident attempts to crack antivirus software

NSA, GCHQ have made evident attempts to crack antivirus software

The Intercept has revealed in a recent report that the surveillance initiatives undertaken by the US National Security Agency (NSA) and the UK's Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) have included efforts to weaken anti-virus software, in evident attempts to facilitate government tracking, data surveillance, and assorted intelligence-gathering.

The report released by The Intercept is based on the latest documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

According to the latest documents leaked by Snowden, the NSA and the GCHQ reverse-engineered a number of anti-virus offerings, particularly the products offered by Russia-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab. The company - which has a holding in the UK - claims that it has 270,000 corporate clients; and its anti-virus products offer protection to a total of nearly 400 million people across the world.

The process of reverse-engineering popular antivirus software was reportedly undertaken by the NSA and the GCHQ with the objective of exploiting bugs, as well as monitoring the Web and email activities antivirus firms to obtain information about new vulnerabilities and malware.

Asserting that "the GCHQ has repeatedly reverse engineered software to discover vulnerabilities," The Intercept said in its report: "Rather than report the vulnerabilities to the companies, spy agencies have quietly stockpiled numerous exploits for a wide range of commercial hardware and software, using them to hack adversaries."

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