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Russian Spies in Every PC? So Says Washington

May 12, 2017 - Article

By Larry Walsh

If you use Kaspersky Lab security products, you have a Russian spy in your office.

If you resell Kaspersky Lab security products or deliver them as services, you’re complicit in facilitating Russian spying.

That’s essentially the story line coming out of Washington, D.C., this week as government officials essentially denounced the Kaspersky Lab products as unsafe and, without proof, alleged the Russian software company is complicit with Kremlin foreign intelligence and espionage operations.

In a dramatic scene that Oliver Stone couldn’t have scripted better, Sen. Marco Rubio, during a regularly scheduled session of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, asked the head of five U.S. spy agencies and the newly minted acting FBI director whether they felt comfortable using Kaspersky Lab products. Down the line, all six said no.

In fact, Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats’ no was “resounding."

At the same time the hearing was happening at the Capitol, Eugene Kaspersky – head of the company that bears his name – was participating in a Reddit Ask Me Anything session. News of the allegations from Washington crept into the discussion, and he responded in kind. 

"I would be very happy to testify in front of the Senate, to participate in the hearings and to answer any questions they would decide to ask me," Kaspersky said. "I think that due to political reasons, these gentlemen don't have an option, and are deprived from the opportunity to use the best endpoint security on the market without any real reason or evidence of wrongdoing from our side."

Same Allegations, Different Year

Before proceeding, full disclosure: The 2112 Group has worked with Kaspersky Lab in the past on channel development and partner enablement.

Talk of Kaspersky Lab collusion with Russian intelligence agencies is nothing new. Eugene Kaspersky received his security training in the Glavnoje Razvedyvatel'noje Upravlenije (translated: Main Intelligence Agency) — commonly referred to as the GRU. Many of the managers at Kaspersky Lab are former Russian military or have held government positions. And Kaspersky Lab does work with the Russian government on security issues.

It would seem where there’s Russian smoke, there’s Kremlin fire. But this issue deserves a more critical look. My company, 2112, did such an inspection in 2015, the last time allegations circulated against Kaspersky Lab. We polled American and European security software resellers on their perceptions of security vendors’ trustworthiness, and here’s what we found (and the results remain relevant today):

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