Is Kaspersky Anti-Virus Spying for Russia?
The Cold War is heating up again, as suspicion of everything Russian sweeps the nation. Among the objects of paranoia is the well-regarded Internet security firm, Kaspersky Lab. Kaspersky is based in Moscow. Is that sufficient reason to suspect it of spying for Vladimir Putin? Read on for the scoop…
Kaspersky Security Software = Russian Spy?The U. S. government seems to think so. In a May 11, 2017, Senate hearing on Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the firing of FBI director James Comey, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) asked leaders of the intelligence community, “Would any one of you be comfortable with Kaspersky Lab’s software on your computers?” All six of them replied with an emphatic “NO.”
None of the security officials, which included the heads of the CIA, FBI, and NSA, revealed what prompted their suspicions, or cited any case in which Kaspersky products were used to spy on U. S. computer networks. Nonetheless, the FBI has reopened an investigation of the firm, citing no reason for doing so. U. S. Defense Intelligence Agency director Vincent Stewart says "we are tracking Kaspersky and their software." And Michael Rogers, head of the National Security Agency is said to be "personally involved" in monitoring the company.
Coincidentally, at the same time as the Senate hearing, Eugene Kaspersky was holding a Q&A session on Reddit. When confronted with the remarks made to the Senate committee, he replied, “I respectfully disagree with their opinion, and I’m very sorry these gentlemen can’t use the best software on the market because of political reasons.” He also offered to testify before the Senate and said the officials’ remarks came “without any real reason or evidence of wrongdoing from our side.”
You can read Kaspersky's blog post Statement Regarding Recent False Allegations about Kaspersky Lab which offers a robust defense against the allegations. More recently, Kaspersky has gone as far as to offer the source code of all of its products to U. S. intelligence experts for analysis, confident that they will find no back doors or hidden weapons in its software. You can’t do much more than that to prove your innocence.
Kaspersky Lab has been around for more than 20 years. No one in the worldwide security community has ever found evidence that it collaborates with Russian intelligence agencies, or that its software contains any secret code that might enable it to be used for spying. More than 270,000 businesses and 400 million individuals trust Kaspersky enough to use its software. None has reported any hint of untoward activity.
In a statement issued after the first reports on the Senate hearing, Kaspersky Lab insisted: "As a private company, Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts. The company has a 20-year history in the IT security industry of always abiding by the highest ethical business practices, and Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations," the statement continued.
"Kaspersky Lab is available to assist all concerned government organizations with any ongoing investigations, and the company ardently believes a deeper examination of Kaspersky Lab will confirm that these allegations are unfounded," the statement added.
The Blame Game Goes GlobalTHERE IS NO DOUBT that botnets, various forms of malware, phishing techniques, as well as vulnerabilities in popular software, operating systems and networking protocols are being used by many government agencies in a cyber-espionage game that is quietly escalating around the globe. And it's not just Russia versus the USA. The military and intelligence counterparts in China, Iran, North Korea, Israel, the United Kingdom, and likely dozens of other countries are using the Internet to dig dirt and steal secrets from each other.
But none of that is reason to point an accusing finger at Kaspersky. I don’t use Kaspersky products, but I have respect for the integrity of the firm and its founder. If the Russian government wanted to spy on Americans, they could certainly find more stealthy ways to do so, than to use Kaspersky software. If politicians here have hard evidence that Kaspersky's hands are dirty, that would be one thing. But if they are smearing the company’s name for the sake of politics, distraction or paranoia, that's unjust. I hope that the matter can be investigated quickly and put to rest.
It's interesting that allegations of Kaspersky being a tool of Russian intelligence also surfaced back in April of 2015, but those accusations were handily rebuffed by Eugene Kaspersky. I explained in my 2015 article Where is Your Antivirus Made? That “country of origin” is not necessarily a useful indicator of your antivirus software’s trustworthiness.
I'm interested in your opinion on the Kaspersky kerfuffle. And also, would you trust a computer security tool made in the USA more than one that comes from Russia, Romania, China or Germany? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 30 May 2017
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Is Kaspersky Anti-Virus Spying for Russia? (Posted: 30 May 2017)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved