The U.S. is worried about this cybersecurity firm’s ties to Russia

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Eugene Kaspersky, Russian antivirus programs developer and chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, stands in front of a window.
Eugene Kaspersky, Russian antivirus programs developer and chief executive of Russia’s Kaspersky Lab, stands in front of a window.

Image: AP/REX/Shutterstock

A big story broke Tuesday morning about Russian collusion—but it didn’t have anything to do with Donald Trump Jr.  

A Bloomberg article reports that a Russian cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, has a much closer relationship with the Russian government than it has publicly admitted. 

Kaspersky Lab, according to the story, “developed security technology” at the behest of Russia’s Federal Security Service, a government spy agency commonly called the FSB. More “unusual,” the firm also sent its own experts with FSB agents on raids to bust hackers.  

Kaspersky has 400 million users around the planet via its software, roughly half of which are from licensing agreements whereby Kaspersky embeds their cybersecurity technology in another company’s product. 

This means Kaspersky’s technology is in lots of places, which is why politicians in the United States have become increasingly worried about its potential connections to the Russian government. In June, senators introduced a bill that would prevent the military from using anything designed by the firm, and the FBI recently sent agents to interview Kaspersky employees based in the United States.

The question at the heart of all this is: Would the Kremlin use Kaspersky’s cybersecurity software to spy on groups and people of interest?

CEO Eugene Kaspersky vehemently denies that idea, and he’s offered to show his company’s source code to politicians worried about this other form of potential Russia collusion. In case you’re wondering, he’s also not too happy about the Bloomberg article. 

The firm also issued a vehement criticism of Bloomberg’s article on the U.S. version of Kaspersky’s website, a nine-point refutation of sorts that claims Bloomberg misreported and mischaracterized elements of the relationship between the cybersecurity firm and the Russian government. 

The refutation says Kaspersky works with law enforcement in many countries interested in combatting cyber criminals, and the nature of its relationship to Moscow isn’t unusual. 

Hopefully for Kaspersky, this tale doesn’t end with a Donald Trump Jr.-level reversal.

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