The vast reach of Kaspersky’s technology is somewhat the result of authorizing agreements that allow consumers to quietly install the software in everything from firewalls to delicate telecommunications equipment neither of which carry the Kaspersky name.
That success is beginning to worry U.S. state security officials concerned regarding the company’s links to the Russian government. In beginning, May six U.S. intelligence and government enforcement agency chiefs were urged in an open Senate hearing whether they’d let their systems use Kaspersky software, often located on Best Buy shelves. The answer was a collective and resounding no. The problem, from Florida Republican Marco Rubio, appeared out of nowhere, often a sign a politician is trying to indirectly draw attention to being learned in classified briefings.
Eugene Kaspersky took to Reddit to answer. Claims about Kaspersky Lab’s links to the Kremlin are “unproven conspiracy theories” and “total BS,” the company’s tumultuous, barrel-chested chief executive officer wrote. While the U.S. administration hasn’t revealed any evidence of the ties, private company emails obtained by Businessweek News show that Kaspersky Lab has kept a much closer fashioning relationship with Russia’s main intelligence agency, the FSB, then it has openly admitted. It has improved security technology at the spy agency’s behest and worked on joint projects the CEO acknowledged would be embarrassing if made public.
Most major cyber security organizations maintain close ties to home governments, but the emails are at odds with Kaspersky Lab’s precisely controlled image of being free from Moscow’s influence. Kaspersky’s business with Russian intelligence could frighten off business in Western Europe and the U.S., where Russian cyber transactions have grown increasingly aggressive, including efforts to influence elections. Western Europe and the U.S. accounted for $374 million of the company’s $633 million in sales in 2016, according to researcher International Data Corp.