UPDATE – 9/19/2017: The United States Senate voted on Monday, September 18 to ban Kaspersky Lab software from federal computer systems and networks. We’ve posted a link to the Reuters.com story at the bottom of this page. We encourage you reading that after this article.*
About a week or two ago we shared an article regarding Kaspersky Labs, the Moscow based security firm and their recent endeavor to release their anti-virus software free of charge.
Integris asked you, our reader (in a rather sarcastic tone) “what could possibly go wrong if people used free anti-virus software coded by the Russians?” As it turns out, the FBI has been going around and giving people the answer to that question. If you use Kaspersky Lab products the Russians are probably spying on you.
Cyberscoop Magazine published a story on August 17th where they say the FBI has been privately speaking with US Companies in order to try and convince them to abandon Kaspersky Lab products because of these apparent security risks.
According to the article, the FBI believes Kaspersky Labs has some level of connection to the FSB (the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation), the spiritual successor to the KGB. The article goes on further and says many of Kaspersky’s executive branch members are former KGB agents themselves.
Founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky? Former KGB. Chief Legal Officer Igor Chekunov? Former KGB. The list goes on and on but we won’t bore you with those details. The point is, according to this article and its sources, the security firm has deep, deep ties to the Russian intelligence community and the Russian intelligence community likes it that way because it makes it easier to spy on people.
Its insinuated any information Kaspersky collects is handed over to agents at the Kremlin and the Kremlin is leveraging that information for future cyber warfare operations.
I’m sure all of you reading this right now are slack-jawed in disbelief. The Russians have always been so trust worthy! You can almost hear Tommy Flanagan, the president of Pathological Liars Anonymous (played by Jon Lovitz on Saturday Night Life) saying:
Okay…so. Here’s the rub, in our estimation. Nobody, including us here at Integris, really knows what the hell is going on with Kaspersky Labs, let alone what’s going on behind closed doors at the Kremlin.
What’s the take away then? How should we, the people born on this side of the Iron Curtain react to the news that Kaspersky Labs might be spying on its users and passing the information off to the Kremlin?
With a shrug and a nod while we all say “yeah, that’s probably the case.”
Look, we know governments are involved in cyber-warfare. The Russians are involved, the Chinese are involved, even the good ol’ USA is involved. There is absolutely nothing in this story that should be shocking to you if you’ve paid any attention to the news over the past 10 years.
People, let’s be real. We live in a world where we’re not only surveilled 24/7 but we also willingly and freely document our lives for the world to see. Nothing is private anymore and applications of all kinds collect personal information. What those companies do with that information they collect is anybody’s guess. Some very well might hand it over to state agencies like the NSA or the FSB.
Ultimately it comes down to this; either you use software from Kaspersky Labs or you don’t. If you do use Kaspersky Labs anti-virus and you’re worried they might be spying on you then chances are you’ll stop using their product. If you don’t use software from Kaspersky Labs, congratulations you’re being spied on through other means but not by your anti-virus software.
If you use Kaspersky Labs and you’re not worried about them spying on you then odds are good that after hours you spend your nights hunting down Moose and Squirrel for Mother Russia..err… I mean Pottsylvania.
But back on track, like we said above, we’re not sure exactly what’s going on. Russia’s been in the news a lot lately. Heck, our executive branch is being investigated for possibly colluding with the Russians during the last presidential election. This could be completely political and the FBI is just squeezing Kaspersky Labs to make the Kremlin more uncomfortable after all the recent sanctions Congress passed.
Integris personally doesn’t recommend using Kaspersky products. Heck, there aren’t any traditional anti-virus software suites out there that we DO recommend. They’re typically using outdated models and honestly they’re rather ineffective.
It’s why we’ve jumped on the Cylance and Cybereason bandwagon. The two represent some very forward thinking solutions to a growing problem and they offer solutions that are hard to compete against.
You know what? Maybe Kaspersky is handing information over to the Kremlin because they can’t do what their software promises. If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?