Eugene Kaspersky, the head of Russia’s largest cybersecurity firm, is denying that he or his company are closely tied to the Putin government in Moscow.
In a Wednesday post to his English-language blog, Kaspersky claims that my WIRED magazine profile detailing those Kremlin connections was filled with “dozens of misquotes, unsourced comments, personal judgments based on mere opinion – or prejudice – and factual mistakes.”
“Not only did he forget to check his facts, in some cases he wrote almost the opposite of what I actually said in my numerous interviews with him over the past seven months,” he adds.
The security mogul doesn’t mention that his firm, Kaspersky Lab, closely cooperated with WIRED’s fact-checking team on nearly every line of the profile. Moreover, the few specific points of contention Kaspersky now raises with the article are flatly contradicted by both his private and public statements.
For instance, Kaspersky insists in his blog post that neither he nor his world-renowned team of cybersecurity researchers is anything more than tangentially linked to Russia’s government or to its security services.
“Remember ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ with Indiana Jones?” Kaspersky asks. “He was a archeologist — the best on the planet. And that’s why the U.S. military came to him for help; they knew nothing about history or mythology. Well it’s the same for what we do for governments worldwide today – we provide EXPERTISE. Nothing more.” (Emphasis in the original.)
“This is the first time,” he adds, “I’ve seen this major stretch to try and link our business with the Russian government.”
In interviews with me, Kaspersky (seen in the video below with Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev) and his employees painted a different picture.
Garry Kondakov, Kaspersky Lab’s Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, told me in February that the company might have gone bankrupt years ago if it wasn’t for a series of timely agreements to provide anti-virus software to the government-run Central Bank of Russia. ”The whole business started from this deal,” Kondakov said. “It was a breakthrough for the company.”
Today, Kaspersky Lab is one of only two companies licensed by the Russian Federal Security Service, or FSB, to sell anti-virus and similar security software to the Russian government.
Sometimes Kaspersky has been reluctant to discuss his relationship with official Moscow; at other times, less so. In 2008, for example, he showed off to a reporter a Christmas card from the Deputy Director of Intelligence for the FSB. During our talks, Kaspersky repeatedly mentioned that he had “very good friends” in the cybercrime divisions of Russia’s Interior Ministry, the local Moscow police department, and the FSB, the bureaucratic successor to the KGB.
Kaspersky has also espoused positions about internet policy that are practically identical to those of the Russian government, which recently passed a bill blacklisting sites promoting so-called extreme speech and other illegal activity. Social networks like LiveJournal are already suffering as a result.
In his blog post, Kaspersky says he’s all for these social networks to continue unfettered: “I constantly stress that social networks can be used for positive things, and would never wish this medium to be shut down or censored,” he writes.
However, in a speech to an audience of reporters and technology analysts on February 9, Kaspersky said the following:
Social networks, it’s too much freedom so people can manipulate others with the fake information. And it’s not possible to find who they are. They are anonymous from somewhere. And that’s why I see the social networks as one of the most dangerous — I don’t know what to call it — threats. But it’s a place for very dangerous action.
He then called for “government regulation on this media.”
When Kaspersky’s son was abducted, he told me, his government connections paid off: The FSB and the cops immediately began working to track down the kidnappers. “Usually police and FSB, they don’t cooperate,” Kaspersky explained in an April 21 interview in his Moscow apartment. “They started to cooperate without any pressure, without any message from the power. Because there we have very good relations with both FSB cyber security department and the Moscow police department.”
But while Kaspersky volunteered those details in April, he’s now upset by the way I characterized the aftermath of his son’s kidnapping, which became a bit of a political topic in Russia. Kaspersky says that I accused him of using his son as “bait.” Nowhere in my profile is that stated or implied. As a father, though, I can relate to what a sensitive and painful topic this must be for Kaspersky. The mere idea of losing a son — even for a few days — is panic-inducing. I tried to be as gentle and understanding as possible in addressing the matter.
At the same time, Kaspersky used his son’s rescue as a way to illustrate his good relations with the Russian authorities. And Kaspersky agreed to appear in a documentary that used his son’s abduction as a prime example of why social networks are dangerous. Those are facts that neither he nor I can avoid.
Article source: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/kaspersky-indy/