Yevgeny “Eugene” Valentinovich Kaspersky, the KGB-trained cryptologist and global security mogul, is “one of the most trustworthy sources on cybersecurity threats.” So says Leonid Bershidsky, the Berlin-based Russian columnist for Bloomberg View, in a September 10 article entitled, “Trust Kaspersky to Root Out Russian Spyware.”
“To show its understandably wary customers that it isn't in the Russian government's pocket, Kaspersky always has to be ahead of others when it comes to research into Russian cyber-espionage,” says Bershidsky. He cites the recent Kaspersky report on the “Turla” cyber espionage group, (also known as Snake or Uroboros) as evidence that Kaspersky is not Kremlin-controlled. The Turla group, which is believed to be Russian-based, is “one the most advanced threat actors in the world” in cyber espionage, says Kaspersky.
In just a few years, Kaspersky Lab has become a computer security titan, now ranking fourth in the global ranking of anti-virus vendors. The company’s website says it operates in 200 countries and territories and has 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients. Kaspersky anti-virus products are sold at big box stores, such as Best Buy and WalMart. The Kaspersky website states further:
Our company takes part in joint cyberthreat investigations with such companies as Adobe, AlienVault Labs, Dell Secureworks, Crowdstrike and others. Our partners among law enforcement agencies include INTERPOL, Europol, The National High Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) of the Netherlands’ Police Agency and The City of London Police, as well as Computer Emergency Response Teams (CERTs) worldwide.
One of Kaspersky’s latest coups is a deal with Exertis, one of Europe’s largest and most quickly growing technology distribution and specialist service providers. Through the new partnership, Kaspersky intends to vastly expand its already significant penetration of the United Kingdom’s market.
While the corporate ties to Kaspersky are cause enough for concern (if having all your private data uploaded to Kaspersky HQ in Moscow concerns you), it is the increasing ties to government agencies that are especially troubling. As we reported in 2013 regarding the new association between INTERPOL:
INTERPOL, the international police organization based in Lyon, France, has joined with Kaspersky Lab, the Russian anti-virus software and consulting giant, to fight cybercrime and cyberthreats. For all except the totally ignorant and naïve, the INTERPOL move would seem to be a case of inviting the vampire to guard the blood bank.
INTERPOL announced that Kaspersky Lab “will provide cyber intelligence with a view to Interpol's sharing it among its 190 member countries seeking to protect cyberspace and investigate cybercriminals.”
The Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab is the creation of Yevgeny “Eugene” Kaspersky, the KGB-trained cryptologist who is now one of Russia’s most famous business oligarchs. Kaspersky anti-virus software is now one of the most widely used computer security products.
Remarkably few investigative reporters and news organizations have deemed Kaspersky’s KGB pedigree and ties to be worthy of notice. An exception is an in-depth 2012 article by Noah Shachtman for Wired magazine, which traced the cyber oligarch’s history as closely as is likely to be publicly revealed.
“Eugene Kaspersky was a bright kid,” writes Shachtman. “At 16 he was accepted to a five-year program at the KGB-backed Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications, and Computer Science. After graduating in 1987, he was commissioned as an intelligence officer in the Soviet army. A quarter century after the fact, he still won’t disclose what he did in the military or what exactly he studied at the institute. ‘That was top-secret, so I don’t remember,’ he says.”
The Wired piece notes that “in Russia, high tech firms like Kaspersky Lab have to cooperate with the siloviki, the network of military, security, law enforcement, and KGB veterans at the core of the Putin regime.”
“The FSB, a successor to the KGB, is now in charge of Russia’s information security, among many other things,” writes Shachtman. “It is the country’s top fighter of cybercrime and also operates the government’s massive electronic surveillance network. According to federal law number 40-FZ, the FSB can not only compel any telecommunications business to install ‘extra hardware and software’ to assist it in its operations, the agency can assign its own officers to work at a business.”
Of course, if Yevgeny Kaspersky were working for and with the KGB-FSB, it would stand to reason that he would expose a Russian cyber threat from time to time — perhaps even viruses he helped create — to boost his bonafides and establish himself as the indispensable go-to security man. That is standard spycraft.
Get “Chipped” — Kaspersky’s Dystopic Future
One of Kaspersky’s new ventures is to promote “chipping” oneself — implanting a RFID microchip the size of a grain of rice into one’s hand. This technology has been available for some years for use on pets, but hasn’t caught on for human use — yet. Kaspersky is hoping to change that. At the IFA Consumer Electronics Unlimited fair in Berlin on September 4, the Kaspersky exhibit demonstrated injecting a microchip into the hand of a volunteer. The commercial sales appeal, at present, is that it can allow access to one’s electronically secured phone, car, home, office, etc. without needing keys, badge, or passwords. Conceivably, in the near future, it will evolve to the level where it could replace debit and credit cards as well. “I started to forget what it’s like to carry a badge to work, or what it’s like to open a door with a key,” Evgeny Chereshnev, who has had a chip implant for six months, told the Daily Mail. “It’s easier,” said Chereshnev, a Kaspersky employee. “I can go to the office and the gym without a membership card. I can open anything at Kaspersky with my hand. I feel this could be a way to go and has great potential.”
Great potential, yes. Especially for Big Brother/KGB/NSA types who want to track your every move and monitor all your activities. For those who have read the last book of the Bible (The Apocalypse, or Revelation), the microchip injection certainly may smack of the introduction of the Mark of the Beast, which will be required for every person on either the right hand or forehead, in order to buy or sell. But, surely the esteemed Mr. Kaspersky would not knowingly be involved in promoting any such nefarious agenda — would he?
Photo of Yevgeny Kaspersky