June 20

Kaspersky, Good or Evil? Looking at the Evidence

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Kaspersky, Good or Evil? Looking at the Evidence

At the time of this writing (2018), the general opinion in the United States is that Kaspersky is a really bad company. But just two short years ago the opinion was very different. Kaspersky had a great reputation within United States and it was widely in use by the U.S. Government. So, what happened exactly? 

Since this lack of faith came about after Donald Trump won the 2016 Presidential election, let’s look at this issue from that point in time.

Before 2016

  • Known as one of the top security companies in the world for nearly 20 years
  • Kaspersky Lab is a leader in threat analyses and publishes information on new discoveries regularly
  • Their software protects millions of computers and systems worldwide, including government agencies
  • Kaspersky publicly announces they discovered top secret hacking tools on an NSA contractor’s computer in 2015

Presidental Elections of 2016

  • Evidence shows that Russian actors influenced the elections on social media (i.e. Facebook)
  • Russian accounts used fake ads, articles, and comments to attack the Democratic Party

After Presidential Elections

  • There’s suspicion that the Russian government influenced the results of the U.S. Presidential elections in 2016
  • An alleged link between the Russian government and Kaspersky is believed to be found
  • It’s assumed Russian spy agencies use Kaspersky to collect intelligence on foreign governments
  • U.S. bans Kaspersky on government computers. A decision made by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
  • Kaspersky closes their Washington D.C. office due to the government ban

Guilty as Charged?

There is evidence that seems to show a connection to the FSB based on documents available on Kaspersky’s website.

It’s also thought the leaked NSA hacking tools were Kaspersky’s fault. Kaspersky Antivirus was installed on an NSA contractor computer that had the hacking tools installed. Since both the tools and Kaspersky software were on the same system, the assumption is that Kaspersky is to blame. Another possibility is that the data leaked through the detected malware that was installed on the NSA contractor’s computer.

So far there has been no evidence to prove any of the accusations that Kaspersky was the source of the leak.

Kaspersky’s Future

Kaspersky is still an industry leader in detection and prevention. Outside of the U.S., it seems that confidence in the company and their software is still high.

To fight their recent bad publicity, Kaspersky hired an independent auditing company to inspect their program source code. They’ve also announced they will move part of their core operations to Sweden and away from Russia to help reduce potential government influence.

Is Kaspersky Evil?

Does Kaspersky have our best interest in mind, or have they have been fooling everyone for 20 years? Let’s look at the facts:

  • No one has been able to prove Kaspersky stole the NSA hacking tools
  • Investigators have not proven a direct tie to the Russian government
  • Kaspersky still has a good reputation, just not in the U.S.

So, is Kaspersky bad or just a victim of politics?  Time may never tell the whole story. It’s up to Kaspersky to keep doing the right things in order to prove they still have the public’s best interest in mind. Will someone ever find proof of corruption? It’s possible, but until then it’s just a matter of opinion.

 

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Kaspersky has published these articles to give their side of the story for anyone interested in learning more:

https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/kaspersky-in-the-shitstorm/19794/

https://www.kaspersky.com/blog/internal-investigation-preliminary-results/19894/

https://securelist.com/the-mystery-of-duqu-2-0-a-sophisticated-cyberespionage-actor-returns/70504/

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About the Author

Mark Beall

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