Eugene Kaspersky, the Russian cyber security mogul whose antivirus software is used by 300 million people, helped identify and neutralize the U.S. government’s cyber attacks on Iranian nuclear facilities and has collaborated with the Russian government, covering up cyber attacks on opposition websites before the December 2011 parliamentary elections.
Kaspersky received his first computer training at a KGB school, and was commissioned as a Soviet intelligence officer in 1987.
Microsoft, Cisco, and Juniper Networks embed Kaspersky code in their products.
The FSB, a successor to the KGB, is now in charge of Russia’s information security, among many other things. 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 (.pdf), 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. “Rule number one of successful companies here is good relations with the siloviki,” says one prominent member of Russia’s technology sector.
Kaspersky says the FSB has never made a request to tamper with his software, nor has it tried to install its agents in his company. But that doesn’t mean Kaspersky and the security agency operate at arm’s length. Quite the opposite: “A substantial part of his company is intimately involved with the FSB,” the tech insider says. While the Russian government has used currency restrictions to cripple a firm’s international business in the past, Kaspersky faces no such interference. “They give him carte blanche for his overseas operations, because he’s among the so-called good companies.”
Kaspersky has also spoken out in favor of tighter restrictions to allow more Internet privacy, saying, “We can forget about privacy. There is no privacy anymore. You can have privacy if you live somewhere in the jungle, or the middle of Siberia.”