Israel Allegedly Hacks Kaspersky Lab, Shares Findings With US

Today’s topics include Israel breaching Kaspersky Lab to reveal Russian hackers; YouTube shutting down a channel over Russian-sponsored U.S. presidential election propaganda; Workday’s releases of Prism Analytics and its Workday Benchmarking data-as-a-service offering; and Microsoft Ventures’ new AI startup competition.

After months of allegations and concerns about security firm Kaspersky Lab’s involvement in Russian government hacking efforts, the New York Times and Washington Post report that Israeli intelligence operatives actually hacked Kaspersky Lab possibly as far back as 2015.

The operatives were able to access files and hacking tools on the Kaspersky Lab network that appeared to be stolen from the U.S. National Security Agency, and then reportedly informed their U.S intelligence counterparts of their findings.

These reports come a week after an Oct. 5 report in the Wall Street Journal alleging that Russian hackers were able to steal secrets from the NSA by way of Kaspersky Lab software. Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky is launching his own investigation. "I am launching an internal investigation to cross-check," he said. "If US Law Enforcement Officials have relevant facts—please share."

Google has reportedly shut down a YouTube channel run by two video bloggers over concerns that it was used in a Russian disinformation campaign during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Videos on the channel were apparently available until this week and portrayed Donald Trump in a positive light while casting Hillary Clinton and her campaign as racist and hostile to the black community.

In August, the two video bloggers’ Facebook and Twitter accounts were removed by the companies after identifying them as being used to spread Russian-backed election propaganda.

Google's move to do the same appears to be an outcome of a probe into the use of its platforms by Russian operatives last year, as many believe Russian operatives took advantage of the tremendous reach of Google’s platform to influence the election outcome.

Cloud enterprise resource planning vendor Workday announced the general availability of Workday Prism Analytics Oct. 10 at its Workday Rising customer conference. The service enables organizations to combine HR and financial data from Workday apps with data from external sources and run self-service analytics across the entire dataset.

Also announced was Workday Benchmarking, a data-as-a-service offering designed to give organizations a way to compare their workforce performance against that of peers using anonymized data submitted by other Workday customers.

The announcements were part of a broader campaign by Workday to showcase its commitment to helping organizations get better insight and value from their financial and human capital related data. More than 1,800 organizations worldwide currently use Workday's core human capital management capabilities, while some 370 use the financial management component.

Microsoft Ventures, the software giant's venture fund for early-stage startups, is running a competition called Innovate.AI to find four artificial intelligence startups across North America, Europe and Israel to share a total of $3.5 million in funding.

"Through this global competition, we are asking startups creating or leveraging transformative AI technologies to apply for a chance to win $1 million from Microsoft Ventures and participating venture capital partners and $500,000 in Azure credits," said Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of Business Development at Microsoft.

Other participating venture capitalists include the Madrona Venture Group, Notion Capital and Vertex Ventures Israel. Microsoft is accepting submissions until Dec. 31.