For those who don’t know, Kaspersky Lab is one of the world’s biggest cybersecurity companies. Their products protect as many as 400 million people worldwide. The company makes what’s considered one of the best antivirus engines around. And its research team is world-class, publishing industry-leading exposés of operations ranging from the National Security Agency to criminal hacker gangs.
The problem is that the company’s reported links to the Kremlin are coming under greater scrutiny after last year’s election meddling by Russia. We wrote about these links back in 2015, revealing, for example, that founder Eugene Kaspersky had can’t-miss weekly banya (sauna) nights with Russian military and intelligence officials.
Two years later, Kaspersky is under pressure on all fronts. U.S. intelligence agencies have deemed the software a potential national security risk. Congress is debating whether to ban the technology outright for use in the U.S. military. The FBI recently visited the homes of U.S.-based Kaspersky Lab employees in connection with an ongoing counterintelligence investigation. No one’s suggested that Kaspersky has engaged in inappropriate activities with Russian intelligence, but the concern is that the company’s ties to people in the Russian government could lead to undue influence.
In our new story for Bloomberg Businessweek (which also makes up this week’s episode of the Decrypted podcast), Michael Riley and I report on internal e-mails from Kaspersky Lab showing that the company’s ties to Russian intelligence services go deeper than has previously been disclosed. According to one…