Lately we are witnessing a very interesting conflict between Kaspersky and the US Department of the Interior. Please be reminded that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) forbid the use of Kaspersky security software on federal computers.
This of course has alarmed some who do not know whether it is safe to use Kaspersky software on their computer.
We gathered the facts, tried to understand the claims of each side and present to you what we have found.
What the US Department of State (DHS)
According to DHS's official statement on the Issue of the 17-01 Binding Operating Instruction, the Department has direct federal executive services that will determine the use of Kaspersky's software on federal devices and will remove it within 90 days. Why?
The Department is concerned about the links between some Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence agencies, as well as other government agencies. The Ministry is worried that all of these Russian services can use Russian law to request or force Kaspersky's help and begin to track communications via Russian networks.
The statement also states that DHS is concerned that the Russian government could use Kaspersky's products on US federal computers, with or without Kaspersky's co-operation. This statement does not give any further information supporting the Ministry's allegations.
New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, meanwhile, has called on Congress to ban Kaspersky products from federal computers. In an interview with NPR, she said that there were public concerns, and that some of these concerns "show that there has been direct cooperation with some Kaspersky and FSB officials".
Of course, we have not seen anything that proves this. Shaheen also said there is relevant classified information that could support what she claims. Why are they secret but we have no idea or if they still exist.
(Shaheen is known to support the war in Iraq, based on false information. We all know it today, as it was later proven, and many commentators point to the similarity of these two scenarios.
What Kaspersky says
The business as you can imagine is not that happy with this development. Kaspersky is a business that has been around for 20 years.
There is no credible evidence that is publicly disclosed by anyone or any organization, and the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company.
The company works with governments around the world to deliver cyber security products. Most of our business moves outside Russia.
"Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will it help, any government in the world with cyberespionage or cyber aggression, and it is very embarrassing that a private company can be found guilty before it can be acquitted because of geopolitical issues."
Who says the truth?
What we know so far
As Kaspersky points out, no reliable public data has been submitted. They have hinted at some classified information, but there is no way to judge the sincerity of this information. If they still exist.
Of course, we know where the relationship between America and Russia is today, and so the statement of "geopolitical issues" that affect decisions seems to make sense.
In his article Foreign Policy published in August of 2017, an anonymous secret service officer reports that intelligence services have been searching for government interference or vulnerabilities in Kaspersky's "for years" software, but they do not find anything.
Did the US secret services find new information? It's possible. But there is no way to learn.
Naturally, nothing in the political world is as clear as it may seem. The 2012, Wired wrote a long profile of Kaspersky and his company. They noted several ways in which Kaspersky's views aligned with the Russian government and seemed to relate to certain members of the FSB.
They also note that many of these relationships are similar to those with big American companies with Washington. On the other hand, Kaspersky is reportedly having a dedicated crew that seeks to neutralize any government espionage. The company's team discovered it Stuxnet, an American-Israeli malware that acted in Iran.
The article paints a conflict. Especially when you consider his terribly misleading title, "Russia's Top Cyber Sleuth Foils US Spies, Helps Kremlin Pals".
But we also have a picture of a good entrepreneur. He understands the political climate and turns it into his advantage when he can. It agrees with the line of the Russian internet privacy party but also agrees with many others around the world.
He is a complex person in a complex business. This certainly does not easily make it a FSB tool.
Yes, Kaspersky Labs has software for the Russian government. But they have also made software for other governments around the world. It is probably closer to the FSB than to other government agencies. But that may be to be expected, as they coexist in Russia, and the FSB handles much of the country's cyber concerns.
Should you worry?
It depends on whether you are a politician, a military or a public figure. It depends on many others:
It seems unlikely that Kaspersky Labs, a highly successful international company, will be involved in Russian espionage. On the other hand, who is involved and does not cover his traces, as best he can?
If you believe in global conspiracies, you may be worried that Russia is using Kaspersky's software to penetrate computers around the world.
On the other hand, apart from Kaspersky's reputation, they play too much money: 644 million dollars was at the time of the Foreign Policy article. The company seems to have little incentive to risk their reputation to help the Russian government. You know the prime importance of each company's reputation.
Does that mean they are totally innocent?
No. As I said, the issue is quite complicated. Collaborating with a cyber security company with an intelligence service is not an exaggeration. Based on the information available to the public - which is scarce - Kaspersky seems to be telling the truth. But as we mentioned before, which spy is not plausible?
In addition, the US Department of the Interior does not mention Kaspersky as a spy but has been forced to give access to Russian spies due to the State's legal status.
It also has a basis, and we can not ignore it.
Do you feel secure?
The most important thing with any security software is to make you feel safe. If you no longer trust Kaspersky, switch to something else. It is simple. However, before proceeding with hasty conclusions, consider the long-standing reputation of the company. Is it a political maneuver or something that has actually happened? We will keep an eye on the facts and we will inform you.
Do you still trust your software? Kaspersky or will you change to something else?