Claims resurface that Kaspersky helped Russian intelligence

Yes, Kaspersky Lab works with government law enforcement agencies, just like American ones do. The company denies any wrongdoing with its work with Russia's government.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Video: Is Russia using hacking and misinformation to disrupt Western nations?

Once more, the Russian antivirus and security company Kaspersky Lab is accused of working closely with Russia's main intelligence agency, the FSB.

Kaspersky replies, "Regardless of how the facts are misconstrued to fit in with a hypothetical, false theory, Kaspersky Lab, and its executives, do not have inappropriate ties with any government. The company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole purpose of fighting cybercrime."

In this latest go-around, Bloomberg Businessweek reports it has emails from October 2009, between Eugene Kaspersky and his senior staff describing a secret project for "the Lubyanka side," a reference to the FSB offices.

Bloomberg says that Kaspersky has confirmed the emails are authentic. Kaspersky denies this.

A Kaspersky representative said, "Kaspersky Lab never confirmed the emails the media outlet claims to have are authentic, as the media outlet refused to share them with the company for validation to protect an anonymous source; however, the archives were thoroughly searched for any document they might be referring to, and an internal email that contains routine business chatter regarding product development may be the document the publication is referencing."

These emails are about distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) protection. Besides defending against DDoS attacks it would include working with internet providers to identify attackers and "active countermeasures."

Kaspersky clarified that it "does not cooperate with hosting companies to locate bad actors, and cooperation with hosting providers in an anti-DDoS context means working with a hosting provider to block an attack on their level, before malicious traffic reaches the attacked web resource.

"This happens when the company experts understand that potential sources of the attack are located in particular data centers," the company said.

The article claims that these active countermeasures included providing "the FSB with real-time intelligence on the hackers' location and sends experts to accompany the FSB and Russian police when they conduct raids."

The company replied to this, "Kaspersky Lab assists law enforcement agencies around the world with fighting cyber-threats, including those in Russia, by providing cybersecurity expertise on malware and cyber-attacks. When assisting in official Russian cybercrime investigations, in accordance with Russian law, we only provide technical expertise throughout the investigation to help them catch cyber-criminals. Concerning raids and physically catching cyber-criminals, Kaspersky Lab might ride along to examine any digital evidence found, but that is the extent of our participation."

Kaspersky noted that it helps law enforcement agencies worldwide to fight malware and cyber-attacks.

One person accused of going on these raids was Ruslan Stoyanov, an anti-DDoS programmer. Stoyanov has since been arrested for treason. He was accused of passing state secrets to Verisign and other US-based companies -- though, Stoyanov was not working for Kaspersky at that time.

While the US government has no evidence connecting Kaspersky to Russia's spy agencies, the antivirus maker and security giant has been attacked as being unsafe for American use.

In May 2017, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) directly asked six US security officials whether they'd authorize Kaspersky software on their networks; all six replied no. And, last month, a proposal to ban the US military from using Kaspersky's products was brought before Congress out of concern they "might be vulnerable to Russian government influence."

Even people who don't use Kaspersky's well-regarded antivirus application may be using their software.

Companies such as Cisco, Juniper, and CheckPoint are all Kaspersky partners. Even Microsoft, which had fought with Kaspersky over how it handled antivirus programs in Windows 10, recently made peace.

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