Kaspersky denies close ties with Russia's spy agency

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Kaspersky denies close ties with Russia's spy agency
Eugene Kaspersky.

As firm is removed from US govt approved vendor lists.

Security vendor Kaspersky Labs has again been forced to deny that it has a close working relationship with Russia's main intelligence agency, following media reports and as it deals with being removed from two US government procurement panels.

Yesterday, Bloomberg Businessweek published a lengthy article that cited purported email threads from 2009 between Eugene Kaspersky and senior staffers at the security vendor.

The emails are claimed to show Kaspersky worked closely with the Russian Federal Security Bureau, something the executive continues to deny. 

"It [Kaspersky Labs] has developed security technology at the spy agency’s behest and worked on joint projects the CEO knew would be embarrassing if made public," the article stated.

Kaspersky labelled the allegations "false and inaccurate" and said they do not show the company has inappropriate ties with Russia or other governments around the world.

While Kaspersky denied that it had confirmed the authenticity of the emails to Bloombergs as it wasn't allowed to sight them, the security vendor said archived messages that could be the ones the story referred to only contained "routine business chatter regarding product development."

Eugene Kaspersky took to Twitter to decry the story, which he said is politically influenced.

The security vendor also took issue with other allegations made in the story, such as providing the FSB with real-time intelligence on hackers' locations, but admitted it has joined the agency on raids against criminals and provided technical expertise for investigations.

This, Kaspersky said, does not show the security vendor has maintained a close working relationship with the FSB than it has publicly admitted.

The security vendor said it cooperates with law enforcement around the world on invesigations, including agencies in the Netherlands, Germany, United States, France and the UK, as well as Russia.

"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," it said.

In May this year Kaspersky was forced to deny a media report citing unnamed United States intelligence officials expressing concerns over the infosec company's access to American government systems.

Kaspersky believes it has been caught in the fallout of Russia's alleged interference in the presidential election last year. Its founder Eugene Kaspersky as well as some senior staff have had ties with the FSB's predecessor, the feared KGB spy agency, but say this was par for the course during the Soviet era.

Taken off procurement panels

The firm was today removed from two lists of approved vendors that can be used by the US government, as a result of the Russia concerns.

The delisting represents the most concrete action taken against Kaspersky following mounting suspicion about its relationship with the Kremlin.

Kaspersky products have been removed from the US General Services Administration's list of vendors for contracts that cover information technology services and digital photographic equipment.

The action was taken "after review and careful consideration," a spokeswoman said, adding that GSA's priorities "are to ensure the integrity and security of US government systems and networks."

Government agencies will still be able to use Kaspersky products purchased separate from the GSA contract process.

Kaspersky Lab said it had not received any updates from GSA or any other US government agency regarding its vendor status.

With Reuters

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