Eugene Kaspersky Interview Exclusive : No Kremlin Ties!

At the end of the Kaspersky Lab Palaeontology of Cybersecurity conference, members of the press were allowed to question the panel of speakers, including Kaspersky Lab Chairman and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky himself.

I took the opportunity to grill Mr. Kaspersky on his run-in with the US Senate over accusations of personal ties to the Kremlin and close affiliation with Russian intelligence agencies. Check out this exclusive video of our exchange!

Eugene Kaspersky Interview Exclusive : No Kremlin Ties!

Don’t forget to check out the Kaspersky Palaeontology of Cybersecurity presentations!

 

Eugene Kaspersky On His Alleged Kremlin Ties

On 27 June 2017, FBI agents visited the homes of some Kaspersky Lab employees in the US. The very next day, Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) introduced an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill that prohibits the US Department of Defense from “using software platforms developed by Kaspersky Lab“.

In response, Eugene Kaspersky (also known as Yevgeny Kaspersky) said that he would be willing to appear before the US Senate. He also offered to show Kaspersky’s source codes to the US government, if that will help assure them that there is nothing malicious in them.

 

The Eugene Kaspersky Interview Transcript

Here is a transcript of the exchange, with some paraphrasing. The Kaspersky APAC Director of GReAT, Vitaly Kamluk, also chipped in his 2 cents, as did Stephan Neumeier, the Managing Director of Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific.

Tech ARP : You said that you would testify before the US Congress and share your source codes. Have they requested you to testify or share your source codes?

Eugene Kaspersky : We are under strange pressure from the United States. They point a finger at us, and say that we are a danger to the United States, without evidence.

They suspect that we have very strong ties with the Russian government. I’m very curious what’s [the evidence]? If not the names of the people, then at least the names of the agencies involved. Silence. So they don’t have any facts.

Okay, ask me to testify before the Senate, please.

Tech ARP : Have they done so?

Eugene Kaspersky : No! No, no, no.

Tech ARP : What about your offer to release the source codes to them? Have they accepted the offer?

Eugene Kaspersky : No! They speak a lot about us, but when we say “Let’s do some real investigation. We can open anything you want.“… Silence.

Tech ARP : What about your offer to release the source codes also extend to other countries, like China, for example?

Eugene Kaspersky : No! Not like this in any other country.

Tech ARP : So [the offer to release the source codes] is only for the United States?

Eugene Kaspersky : Actually we disclose some technologies in some other countries, but I’m not going to name those countries. We did it to comply with government contract requirements.

We are a transparent company. If you have any questions, just ask us. It’s not a problem at all. So we don’t have this kind of problem in any other country but the United States.

Tech ARP : Beyond the source code, there is also the concern about data collection on US DOD employees by Kaspersky Lab, which is a Russian company. Do you have a comment on this?

Eugene Kaspersky : We only collect suspicious pieces of data, that might be malware samples. We do not collect the user’s data.

Well, we collect the user’s data if the user is a cybercriminal. If he’s developing malicious code on a computer, we will take it (the malicious code) because it looks suspicious. But the rest of the data – we do not touch, and we don’t collect any user-identifiable data.

Actually, it’s very strange when the United States say that I can cooperate with the (Russian) secret services and disclose data, but I don’t have this data.

The most confidential information that we have in our company are the cyberattack incidence reports involving our customers. We help our customers to investigate these cyberattacks but we don’t share this data with anyone. There could be information about ongoing investigations, but we don’t share this information with anyone but the law enforcement agencies that are handling the case. That’s it.

We don’t have any user-identifiable data or enterprise data, unless it’s for an investigation of a cyberattack.

Vitaly Kamluk : I also want to add that the control of whether to share data (or not) is always in the user’s hands. We never force the collection of user’s data. You can switch it on or off.

We do not hard-code the collection of data. There is a control and it’s in the user’s hands. So if certain organisations or individuals are concerned about the collection of data, they can switch it off.

Eugene Kaspersky : Yes, they can switch it off.

Tech ARP : What about telemetry, statistics, etc?

Vitaly Kamluk : You can switch it off – malware detection statistics and even malware samples. This is in the user’s control – to share or not to share.

Eugene Kaspersky : In most of the cases, we don’t know who our users are. We see their product ID when their Kaspersky product connects to the cloud for updates, but we don’t know the name of their user.

Tech ARP : There are claims that you have connections or links to the Kremlin. Can you deny or acknowledge these claims?

Eugene Kaspersky : They are my customers. We cooperate with the cyber police forces in Russia.

Tech ARP : Are you Vladimir Putin’s friend?

Eugene Kaspersky : No. Is Putin my friend? No.

Mark (Moderator) : Is Donald Trump your friend?

Eugene Kaspersky : <Laughs> No. In my office, there is only one picture – my handshake with Angela Merkel. No more.

Stephan Neumeier : True.

Eugene Kaspersky : Did you see it?

Stephan Neumeier : Yes.

Eugene Kaspersky : Once I had a handshake with Lee Kuan Yew (former Prime Minister of Singapore), but unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that.

Don’t forget to check out the Kaspersky Palaeontology of Cybersecurity presentations!

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