In context: Antivirus giant Kaspersky Lab has responded to a warning put out by the German government advising users of its software that they could be susceptible to cyberattacks or snooping. The Moscow-based company said the advisory is based on political motivations and not technical assessments.
The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) issued the warning following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. "A Russian IT manufacturer can carry out offensive operations itself, be forced against its will to attack target systems, or be spied on as a victim of a cyber operation without its knowledge or as a tool for attacks against its own customers," the BSI writes (via the BBC, which translated the message).
The BSI recommends Kaspersky antivirus products be replaced with alternatives.
As it has done several times in the past, Kaspersky Lab, which says it moved its data-processing infrastructure to Switzerland in 2018, denied it has any links to or could be coerced by the Russian government. "We believe this decision is not based on a technical assessment of Kaspersky products -- that we continuously advocated for with the BSI and across Europe -- but instead is being made on political grounds," the company said.
"The security and integrity of our data services and engineering practices have been confirmed by independent third-party assessments […] We believe that peaceful dialogue is the only possible instrument for resolving conflicts. War isn't good for anyone."
We welcome the start of negotiations to resolve the current situation in Ukraine and hope that they will lead to a cessation of hostilities and a compromise. We believe that peaceful dialogue is the only possible instrument for resolving conflicts. War isn't good for anyone.— Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) March 1, 2022
Kaspersky co-founder Yevgeny (Eugene) Kaspersky previously worked for the Russian military and was educated at a KGB-sponsored technical college, raising suspicions that his company may have close links to the country's government.
In 2017, Kaspersky Lab was facing claims over a possible compromise of its source code by Moscow. President Trump banned the use of its antivirus products on federal government machines in the same year, for which Kaspersky Lab filed a lawsuit. There have also been claims that hackers working on behalf of the Russian government stole secret details of the NSA's offensive and defensive cyber capabilities by exploiting Kaspersky antivirus software.