Friday, December 4

Cyberfirm Kaspersky seeks to win back trust over Russia spy claims


Security software firm Kaspersky has become a focal point in a cyber conflict between the United States and Russia. AFP File Photo


PARIS: Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab announced on Monday it will allow third parties to analyse its antivirus software in an attempt to rule out accusations of spying for the Kremlin.

“We want to show how we’re completely open and transparent. We’ve nothing to hide,” company founder Eugene Kaspersky said while launching what was dubbed a “global transparency initiative”.

“Cybersecurity has no borders, but attempts to introduce national boundaries in cyberspace is counterproductive and must be stopped. We need to reestablish trust in relationships between companies, governments and citizens,” he said in a statement.

The Russian-based company has been accused of being a vehicle for hackers to steal security secrets from the US National Security Agency, and was banned by all American government agencies last month.

The software firm has repeatedly argued it has no ties to any government and has claimed it is simply caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.

“Kaspersky Lab will engage the broader information security community and other stakeholders in validating and verifying the trustworthiness of its products, internal processes, and business operations,” the company said in the statement.

“As part of the initiative, the company intends to provide the source code of its software -– including software updates and threat-detection rules updates -– for independent review and assessment.”

– Promise of ‘transparency’ –

Kaspersky’s software, widely respected for its virus-catching effectiveness, is used on millions of computers around the world.

The company has said it will open “transparency centres”, beginning in 2018, to address security issues with customers, partners and government stakeholders.

Three centres will open in Asia, Europe and the US by 2020, it said.

US media reports have accused the company of facilitating the Kremlin either as part of a covert espionage scheme or as an unwilling accomplice.

The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Israeli intelligence had hacked into the Kaspersky network and upon detecting the Russian intrusion, alerted the United States, which led to the decision to remove Kaspersky software from US government computers.

The online news site CyberScoop, citing anonymous sources, reported separately that Kaspersky as early as 2015 sought to promote its anti-virus software as a tool to track extremists in the Middle East.

The report said that some US officials were intrigued by the offer, but that technical members of the intelligence community interpreted this as meaning that Kaspersky’s anti-virus software could be used as a spying tool.

The Wall Street Journal has previously reported that the Russian government was able to modify Kaspersky software to turn it into an espionage tool.

The allegations concerning Kaspersky come in the wake of an alleged Russian-led effort to manipulate social media and influence the 2016 US presidential election. – AFP