Kaspersky, russian anti-virus CEO offers source code for US government scrutiny.
Kaspersky Lab has been in the spotlight lately. The company recently filed an antitrust complaint against Microsoft over alleged anti-competitive practices and has been in the cross hairs of the Senate Intelligence Committee due to U.S. lawmakers’ suspicion of its relationship with the Russian government. Congress is currently weighing a proposal to ban the company’s products from the Department of Defense.
The company has international research facilities and a large presence in the United States, and its products are used in many state and federal government facilities. There is no public evidence that the Russian government has compromised Kaspersky products, but lawmakers are increasingly suspicious of the company and its founder and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky. Kaspersky received his education at a KGB-backed school and served in Russian military intelligence. He still maintains close relationships with Russian government, and intelligence officials.
In order to allay those fears, the CEO has now offered to testify before Congress and is even willing to turn over source code of his company’s products to U.S. authorities, in order to prove that they have not been compromised by the Russian government. According to an Associated Press report, he stated: “If the United States needs, we can disclose the source code. Anything I can do to prove that we don’t behave maliciously I will do it.”
Kaspersky used to work with the FBI on matters of cyber security, but that relationship seems to have ended. On Wednesday, NBC news reported that FBI agents visited at least a dozen U.S. employees of Kaspersky Lab at their homes. Confirming the report he commented: “Unfortunately, now the links to the FBI are completely ruined. It means that if some serious crime happens that needs Russian law enforcement to cooperate with FBI, unfortunately it’s not possible.”
Kaspersky’s offer to have his source code audited may not calm everyone’s fear though. Many are less concerned about backdoors in its software, and more about his company’s staff and the data they gather, since many of these employees are former Russian intelligence employees. He claims that these employees work mainly in the sales department due to their relationship with the Russian government sector. He added that the company’s internal network was too segregated for a single rogue employee to abuse it, stating: “It’s almost not possible. Because to do that, you have to have not just one person in the company, but a group of people that have access to different parts of our technological processes. It’s too complicated.”