Does Kaspersky Have Something to Hide?

The Russian security giant faces scrutiny worldwide. Is there fire beneath the smoke?


Until earlier this year, Kaspersky Labs, the Moscow-based anti-virus and internet security firm founded by Eugene Kaspersky, was making a hard push to gain U.S. market share, targeting major companies and government contracts. That was before the chill in U.S.-Russia relations and evidence of Russian state-sponsored election hacking. Now, Kaspersky has been dropped from an approved vendor list for U.S. civilian contracts at the urging of National Security Agency Director Michael Rogers, and the company is vehemently denying claims that it is complicit in Kremlin-backed counterintelligence operations.

The New York Times reported this week that Israeli intelligence officers observed Russian hackers exploiting Kaspersky software to query global networks in an attempt to infiltrate the NSA. This comes on the heels of a Wall Street Journal report that hackers have used the software to steal materials from an NSA contractor’s home computer. Is this the hard proof that could tie Kaspersky to Russia spying?

On this week’s first episode of The E.R., FP‘s executive editor for news Sharon Weinberger is joined by Jake Williams, Andrei Soldatov, and FP’s Elias Groll to discuss the accusations swirling around Kaspersky. Can the company clear its name? And what are the implications for the intelligence community?

Jake Williams is the founder of Rendition Infosec, a consultancy that performs forensics and incident response investigations as well as penetration testing and secure network design. He regularly responds to cyber intrusions performed by state-sponsored actors in financial, defense, aerospace, and health care sectors using cutting edge forensics and incident response techniques. Williams is also an instructor and course author at the SANS institute, where he develops cutting-edge cybersecurity training. Follow him on Twitter: @MalwareJake.

Andrei Soldatov is an investigative journalist and editor of Agentura.Ru, an information hub on intelligence agencies. Soldatov regularly comments on terrorism and intelligence issues for Vedomosti, Radio Free Europe, and the BBC. He is a columnist for Ezhednevny Journal and the Moscow Times. He’s also the co-author of The Red Web: The Kremlin’s War on the Internet. Follow him on Twitter: @AndreiSoldatov.

Elias Groll is a staff writer at Foreign Policy, covering cyberspace and its conflicts and controversies. Follow him on Twitter: @EliasGroll.

Sharon Weinberger is FP’s executive editor for news. She is the author of The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the WorldFollow her on Twitter: @weinbergersa.

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