Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and CEO of security software company Kaspersky Lab, has flat-out denied that his company's software is, or could be, used by Russian government agencies to spy on US and other governments' computers and networks.
Kaspersky made the denial following a report on US television that suggested that government officials were increasingly concerned that the Russian government's anti-virus software could be used to spy on users - especially users working high up in the US government.
"In a secret memorandum sent last month to director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and attorney general Jeff Sessions, the Senate Intelligence Committee raised possible red flags about Kaspersky Lab and urged the intelligence community to address potential risks posed by the company's powerful market position," suggested ABC News.
Recently, I've been asked some very strange questions by a US reporter. Seems they cook a new BIG conspiracy story.— Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) May 8, 2017
The bi-partisan memo described it as an "important national security issue". The FBI is, according to ABC News, investigating the nature of Kaspersky Lab's relationship with the Russian government.
The Committee is concerned about the revolving door between Russian intelligence and military agencies and the company, although it's not exactly dissimilar to the ‘relationship' between the military and intelligence agencies and some software companies, both in the US and elsewhere.
Indeed, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) even has its own venture capital firm, In-Q-Tel, that invests in companies developing technology that the CIA might be interested in.
It isn't the first time that such allegations have been made. In 2015, Bloomberg claimed that Eugene Kaspersky was ‘in bed with the FSB', Russia's security agency and successor to the KGB.
In a country such as Russia, with an over-bearing, centralised and kleptocratic government and bureaucracy, it is unlikely that a company can prosper without cultivating government ties to some degree, even if only for protection. And most companies of significant size, anywhere in the world, indulge in lobbying to advance their interests in central government.
In a statement addressing the latest accusations, Kaspersky categorically denied the new claims.
He said: "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 cyber-espionage 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.
"Kaspersky Lab is available to assist all concerned government organisations with any ongoing investigations, and the company ardently believes a deeper examination of Kaspersky Lab will confirm that these allegations are unfounded."
Eugene Kaspersky will no doubt go into more detail about the allegations - and his responses to them - in a Reddit AMA [ask me anything] tomorrow, which had been set-up before the recent allegations surface.
Computing's IT Leaders Forum 2017 is coming on 24 May 2017. The theme this year is "Going Digital: Why your most difficult customer is your best friend".
Attendance is free, but strictly limited to IT Leaders. To find out more and to apply for your place, check out the IT Leaders Forum website.
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