20-Plus Security Vendors On The NSA Target List (And Those Who Weren't)

Snowden Fallout Continues

This week, the latest documents from whistleblower Edward Snowden revealed in an Intercept report that the National Security Agency had targeted security vendors, reverse engineering their systems to learn about their capabilities and gain access to user data. According to the report by the Intercept, the documents revealed that, in addition to repeated-target Kaspersky Lab, the agency also targeted more than 20 other anti-virus vendors under Project Camberdada. From there, the agency could possibly learn the vulnerabilities of the solutions included in its "More Targets" list and exploit them for its own use.

Take a look at which anti-virus vendors from around the globe were potentially targeted by the NSA.

Kaspersky Lab

The most mentioned company in the NSA documents was Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab, which the Intercept report said was the target of reverse engineering attempts to pinpoint weaknesses and gain access to customer information. In an email to CRN, a Kaspersky spokesperson said it found the report "extremely worrying" and it was "closely reviewing and investigating" the information and actively taking steps to mitigate any vulnerabilities.


A list of "more target" companies from around the world included Amsterdam-based AVG, which offers a range of offerings, including anti-virus, cloud security and Web security. In an email to CRN, AVG Chief Legal Officer Harvey Anderson called the report "troubling," adding that the company has not seen any evidence that it has been infiltrated.

"AVG is not aware -- and there is no claim -- that any government has compromised any of our products. We take significant steps to identify vulnerabilities and prevent reverse engineering or exploitation of our products, whether by cyber criminals, governments or otherwise," Anderson said.


Bitdefender is a Romania-based anti-virus company with offerings for both the consumer and the enterprise. In an email to CRN, a spokesperson said Bitdefender uses behavior-based detection and anomaly-detection algorithms to prevent "abnormal usage," such as that described in the report by the NSA. The company has not yet found evidence in its systems of an attack, it said. Alexandru Catalin Cosoi, Bitdefender’s chief security strategist, said in an email that the "natural response" for the company going forward would be to "push the technological boundaries further so none of our customers feel the increasing government pressure."


Headquartered in Slovakia, anti-virus and firewall company ESET also made the NSA list of "more targets," according to the report. The company's Nod32 antivirus software also made its own appearance on the list.

"Eset is a global company with research facilities around the world. Protecting our customers, our products and our systems against intrusions of any kind, no matter the source, is always our first priority. In connection to these reports, we have inspected our systems and found no indicators of compromise," a company spokesperson said in an email.

The company has been notably outspoken about the detection of government malware in the past, and this latest report was no exception, with the company calling for the industry to stand together against "any efforts designed to weaken our security products."


Avast is a Prague, Czech Republic-based anti-virus company with more than 230 million users. The company was listed on the Intercept report's "more targets" list. Avast has been in the spotlight before, with a 2014 announcement of a data breach affecting about 400,000 users who had accessed its support forum.

Check Point

Another major vendor that made the NSA's target list was Check Point Software Technologies, an Israel-based vendor with a broad range of offerings for the Web, network, endpoint, data, mobile security and more. In an email to CRN, a Check Point spokesperson said the company had examined its networks and has "not seen any indication of this type of activity on our networks."


Also making the list is Vir.IT, an Italy-based vendor targeting consumer and corporate markets with a wide array of security solutions. The report specifically mentioned the company's eXplorer Pro offering, which includes anti-virus, anti-malware, firewall and anti-spyware technology.

FSB Antivirus

FSB Antivirus is the only French company on the NSA's list, though not the only European company by any means. The company is a small anti-virus vendor, using heuristics and behavioral detection to track down malware in an environment, with a goal to detect as much zero-day malware as possible, according to its LinkedIn page.


Also on the list is F-Prot, an Iceland-based anti-virus company with offerings for home and business users. The company is now part of McLean, Va.-based cloud-based security company Cyren and is integrated in the Cyren Antivirus engine. The company offers an OEM and SDK partner program for its licensed offering.


Norman Safeground made the list of target companies for the NSA, as did its new parent company, AVG. In November of last year, AVG acquired the Norway-based anti-virus company to expand its European footprint as well as its technology portfolio, according to an announcement at the time. Norman's offerings include both home and business offerings of anti-virus and security software, the latter of which is delivered in part with its channel partners in the region.


Listed as eAladdin on the NSA target list, Aladdin Knowledge Systems offers an anti-virus solution called eSafe protect, which it acquired from Israel-based EliaShim in 1998. More specifically, the company offers a digital rights management solution as well as a collection of network security offerings, which are part of the eSafe product line. The company was acquired in 2009 by SafeNet, a Belcamp, Md.-based information security company.


The only company from Finland on the NSA's target list, F-secure describes itself as an "online security and privacy company." The company, which has more than 1,000 employees, offers solutions for home, business and through partners. The company works to provide solutions for users to "surf invisibly" and share files without threats. The company says its mission is to fight for digital freedom, a slight bit of irony as it made its way onto the NSA target list.

Dr. Web

High-grade anti-virus company Dr. Web also made the NSA's target list. The company is based in Moscow and offers anti-virus and threat intelligence solutions for home and business users, distributed 100 percent by the company's network of partners.

K7 Computing

Based in India, K7 Computing has a broad reach around the globe, with more than 15 million customers across more than 100 countries. K7 Computing was one of the companies to make the NSA's "target list," according to the report. The company brings to the table a range of anti-virus, mobile and Web security offerings for both home and enterprise clients.


One of two Austrian companies to make the NSA's target list, Vienna-based Ikarus offers security software to help both consumer and business clients protect against viruses, Trojans, spyware and spam, according to the company website. The company has threat detection, mobile security, network security and endpoint protection offerings, which the company offers in part through its partner program.


Another target on the NSA's list was Seoul, South Korea-based Hauri. Founded in 1998, the company offers a wide range of ViRobot security solutions, including APT protection, Web security, mobile security and server protection, to name a few.


Based in Poland, Arcabit was another reported target of the NSA's Project Camberdada. The company offers solutions for antivirus, Internet security, mobile security and endpoint security. According to a translation of the company's website, it combines its own proprietary technology with the technology of Bitdefender, another company on the NSA's target list.


Branding itself as the "next generation anti-virus engine innovator," Antiy is an anti-virus vendor with solutions for both PC and mobile. The Chinese vendor, which was also on the NSA target list, serves enterprise clients across the U.S., Japan and China.

Spy Emergency

Another company that made the NSA target list was Netgate Technologies, with its Spy Emergency offering. The Slovakia-based company brings to the market firewall, backup and Web security offerings. The company's Spy Emergency offering is one of its top products, the company said, with capabilities to fight back against spyware, viruses and spam.


With well over 400 million installs globally, Avira offers an anti-virus solution for Mac, PC and mobile devices. The Germany-based company offers different levels of protection across three different major offerings, starting with workstation protection, then adding server protection and email protection as customers upgrade to higher levels. The company was the only German-based company mentioned on the NSA's target list.


The second South Korean company on the NSA's target list, Ahnlab offers a variety of solutions for consumers, SMBs and enterprises. Those offerings include anti-virus solutions, mobile security, online transaction products, network security and services.


Another target of the NSA list was NoVirusThanks, an Italy-based company offering solutions for Internet and computer security. In particular, the company sells solutions for file erasing, password protection, file logging, anti-virus and network management.


Emsisoft is an Austria-based vendor offering anti-virus, firewall and mobile security offerings to home and business users. The company addressed the NSA report on its website, saying the company has found no evidence of the NSA infiltration on its systems. To keep its clients secure, the company maintained in a blog post that it uses email encryption, secure VPN for internal processes and actively researches new Internet threats.

"The NSA may have an edge when it comes to the multitude of entry points it has to intercept traffic. But the NSA isn’t doing anything other malware writers aren’t already doing. To get to our internal information, the NSA must ultimately overcome the same hurdles that every hacker and malware writer must overcome," the blog post said.

Who Didn't Make The List

Notable exceptions from the NSA's target list was McAfee (now Intel Security), Symantec and Sophos. In emails to CRN, Symantec said it has found no evidence of infiltration in its systems. Sophos and Intel Security declined to comment.