Harold T. Martin III, a former government contractor, is still facing trial for the alleged theft of massive amounts of National Security Agency data, including documents and tools from the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations Division. Now, a new report by Kim Zetter for Politico suggests that the NSA and the Justice Department tracked down Martin thanks to information shared by an ironic source: the Moscow-based malware protection company Kaspersky Lab. Citing two anonymous sources familiar with the investigation, Zetter reports that Kaspersky Lab employees passed information on Martin to the US government after he sent unusual direct messages via Twitter to the company in 2016.
Kaspersky passed the US government five messages from an anonymous Twitter account named @HAL999999999 to two researchers at the company. The first message, sent August 15, 2016, requested that a researcher facilitate a conversation with “Yevgeny,” the given name of Kaspersky Lab founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky. “So, figure out how we talk… With Yevgeny present,” the message read. The second message: “Shelf life, three weeks.”
The messages came just 30 minutes before someone calling themselves Shadow Brokers dumped a link to a collection of NSA tools in a Tumblr post and announced additional tools would be auctioned off for 1 million Bitcoin.