Kaspersky Lab today defended its products and reputation amid reports that the FBI is meeting with private-sector customers of the security vendor in an active effort to convince those organizations to stop using Kaspersky software.

The approach marks a significant escalation in a months-long campaign by U.S. intelligence officials to strip Kaspersky Lab products from government and other sensitive networks, citing the Moscow-based company’s roots and continuing ties to Russian intelligence.

Since the beginning of this year, agents from the FBI counterintelligence section have provided intelligence briefings to energy companies and other organizations that use networked industrial control systems (ICS), purporting to show that Kaspersky is a threat to national security.

News of the briefings first surfaced Thursday in a report by CyberScoop.com, which cited unnamed senior U.S. officials.

“If these briefings are actually occurring, it’s extremely disappointing that a government agency would take such actions against a law-abiding and ethical company like Kaspersky Lab,” the company said in an email to MSPmentor.

Kaspersky in April launched a new partner program for managed services providers (MSPs) and value-added resellers (VARs), and just this month named a new channel chief for North America.

But the headwinds for Kaspersky’s North American channel operations are undeniable.

Suspicion of the company by U.S. authorities spilled into the public arena late last year, following accusations that the Russian government hacked the 2016 Presidential election.

“The only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab, a private company, is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, and it’s being treated unfairly even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts,” the email from Kaspersky reads.

Founder Eugene Kaspersky is among multiple Kaspersky team members who were trained in cyber security at an academy run by Russian intelligence.

But in the 20 years it has been in business, the company has built an unblemished reputation for quality products and ethical behavior, its officials said. 

“Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyberthreats,” the Kaspersky statement said. “But it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russia.”

The company points to the fact that more than 85 percent of its revenue comes from outside of Russia as further evidence of its incentive to ensure integrity in foreign operations.

Most unfair, Kaspersky argues, is that the company is not being given an opportunity to clear its name.

“CEO Eugene Kaspersky has repeatedly offered to meet with government officials, testify before the U.S. Congress and provide the company’s source code for an official audit to help address any questions the U.S. government has about the company,” the Kaspersky statement said.

“Kaspersky Lab has only received a general reply from one agency at this time,” the email went on. “The company simply wants the opportunity to answer any questions and assist all concerned government organizations with any investigations, as Kaspersky Lab ardently believes a deeper examination of the company will confirm that these allegations are completely unfounded.”

 

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