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The head of Kaspersky Lab is offering to turn over to U.S. officials the source code for its software products in a latest effort to dispel fears that the Moscow-based firm’s cybersecurity tools contain “back doors” that could be exploited by the Russian government.
Founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky made the comments to The Australian newspaper in Sydney, where he is a keynote speaker at the CeBIT Australia business technology fair.
Questions about the integrity of Kaspersky Lab software were thrust into the headlines this month after a report on social news site BuzzFeed said a review is underway to determine the extent to which Kaspersky products are being used by government agencies and how to get rid of them.x
Days later, the heads of several U.S. intelligence agencies told a Senate committee hearing that they would not feel comfortable using Kaspersky products in their organizations.
“It’s suicide,” Kaspersky told The Australian about the risks of planting vulnerabilities in software for use by the U.S. government. “It would not only kill the business, but you’d have to save your life somewhere in a jungle, in the Amazon River or in Siberia.”
Kaspersky has already said he would be willing to testify before Congress and added to that offer today.
“(I) would give them the source code for checking,” he’s quoted as saying. “When we have government contracts, in some cases we’re asked to disclose our technologies – and we do it.”
Kaspersky attended a Russian intelligence academy and worked as a cybersecurity engineer for Russian military intelligence.
And while many of his employees also came from the ranks of Russian intelligence, he rejected assertions that they could or would compromise the company’s software.
“We do have former employees from the Russian defense, from the European defense, from the Israeli defense and from different countries,” he told the newspaper. “The people are coming to get a job and they are good guys; they’re not working on defense anymore.”
“I don’t have any case of an employee doing something like that,” Kaspersky added. “And it’s not possible to inject the code because people are watching.”
Asked whether the allegations stemmed from paranoia or a smear campaign, Kaspersky suggested that market competitors could be to blame.
“I don’t know exactly, but sometimes it smells like some guys are not happy with our success,” he said.