Kaspersky Lab Denies Claims of Cooperation with Russian Spy Agency

July 12, 2017 — 09:35
— Update: Jul. 12 2017 — 14:04
July 12, 2017 — 09:35
— Update: Jul. 12 2017 — 14:04
Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of Kaspersky Lab.

Following an article published yesterday by Bloomberg claiming that Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s largest cyber security firms, cooperates closely with Russian intelligence, the Moscow-based company has gone on the offensive to deny the accusations.

Bloomberg deserves a “PhD for ‘banya journalism,’” Eugene Kaspersky, one of the company’s founders and leading shareholders, said on Twitter.

“Numerous allegations, misinterpretations & fakes. This story is BS brewed on political agenda.”

In its article, Bloomberg said it had gained access to Kaspersky Lab’s internal emails which showed that the company “has maintained a much closer working relationship with Russia’s main intelligence agency, the FSB, than it has publicly admitted.”

“It has developed security technology at the spy agency’s behest and worked on joint projects the CEO knew would be embarrassing if made public,” Bloomberg wrote.

Kaspersky Lab, founded in 1997, is one of the fastest-growing anti-virus and cyber security software firms in the world, and it claims to have more than 270,000 corporate clients and 400 millions users worldwide. In 2016, the company had a revenue of more than $700 million.

The company on Tuesday defended itself against the allegations of collusion with the FSB in an online statement, saying that, “Kaspersky Lab is very public about the fact that it assists law enforcement agencies around the world with fighting cyberthreats, including those in Russia, by providing cybersecurity expertise on malware and cyberattacks.”

The company continued to say that it had “never received a request from the Russian government, or any affiliated organization, to create or participate in ANY secret projects, including one for anti-DDoS protection.”

“When assisting in official Russian cybercrime investigations, in accordance with Russian law, we only provide technical expertise throughout the investigation to help them catch cybercriminals.”

“When assisting in official Russian cybercrime investigations, in accordance with Russian law, we only provide technical expertise throughout the investigation to help them catch cybercriminals.”

Bloomberg did not say how it acquired the allegedly damaging emails, but Kaspersky Lab has earlier claimed it is a target of U.S. cyber espionage.

Kaspersky made waves in the cyber world in early 2015 when it revealed that U.S. spy agencies were conducting cyber espionage and attacks around the world.

It has since suggested that damaging articles in the western media are payback from U.S. spy agencies, such as the National Security Agency (NSA).

In March 2015, Bloomberg made similar accusations of the Russian company’s alleged close cooperation with the FSB. 

At the time, Eugene Kaspersky tied the Bloomberg report to his company’s investigation earlier that year into a notorious hacking collective named Equation Group. The collective is widely believed to have close ties to the NSA, carrying out cyber attacks and espionage on behalf of the NSA and CIA against foreign governments.

Kaspersky Lab has also been at the center of other cyber intrigue dating to the end of 2016 when Ruslan Stoyanov, the company’s former head of cyber crime investigations, was arrested in Moscow on charges of treason.

Stoyanov previously worked for the Moscow police, and supposedly acted as a middleman between Kaspersky and Sergei Mikhailov, deputy chief at the FSB's Information Security Center, who was detained at around the same time.

In a letter, published in April by the opposition leaning Dozhd TV station, Stoyanov lambasted the Russian government for recruiting hackers in exchange for immunity from prosecution.

“The essence of the deal is that the state gets access to the technologies and information of ‘cyber thieves,’ in exchange for allowing them to steal abroad with impunity,” Stoyanov wrote. He said it has led to “a new crime wave” perpetuated by “patriotic thieves.”

Stoyanov said he was arrested and thrown in jail because he threatened the business interests of Russian security generals and cyber thieves.