Russian cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab has decided to transfer some of its operations from Russia to Switzerland in an effort to quell allegations that the Russian government has been using the company’s products to spy on its customers.
Kaspersky Lab’s CEO and founder Eugene Kaspersky said, “In a rapidly changing industry such as ours we have to adapt to the evolving needs of our clients, stakeholders and partners.”
“Transparency is one such need, and that is why we’ve decided to redesign our infrastructure and move our data processing facilities to Switzerland. We believe such action will become a global trend for cybersecurity, and that a policy of trust will catch on across the industry as a key basic requirement,” he added.
Furthermore, in a press release, the firm reaffirmed that it “has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage or offensive cyber efforts.”
The Russian software giant believes the “new centre in Switzerland will strengthen the proven integrity of Kaspersky Lab’s products, (and) significantly improve the resilience of our IT infrastructure to any trust risk – even theoretical ones.”
More specifically, as reported by TechCrunch, “Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide.”
Furthermore, the company said, “the relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organization, and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.”
Kaspersky’s CEO added, “The data of our customers from the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Australia will henceforth be stored and processed in Switzerland,” with other countries to be eventually added.
The firm ultimately picked Switzerland as their new base due to its strong “policy of neutrality” and privacy laws.
The Netherlands Follows US & UK Lead & Drops Kaspersky Products
Several countries have moved to cut ties with Kaspersky Lab as a result of these alleged practices.
Earlier this week, the Netherlands announced it will stop using the company’s products to prevent “digital espionage and sabotage” and recommended that Dutch companies handling confidential data also ditch Kaspersky’s products.
The Dutch Justice and Security Ministry said, “Russia has an active offensive cyber programme focusing on the Netherlands and vital Dutch interests.”
In 2017, the United States’ Department of Homeland Security urged government offices to stop using the Russian firm’s products to prevent breaches.
As reported by the New York Times in October 2017, Israeli intelligence officials tipped the US to the large-scale use of Kaspersky anti-virus software by Russian hackers to collect information on US government officials.
Following this revelation, Elaine C. Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, set in motion plans to banish all Kaspersky software from government computers.
The United Kingdom’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) also removed Kaspersky products from its government’s computers in 2017, citing an effort to “prevent the transfer of UK data to the Russian state.”
Furthermore, the NCSC began discussions with Kaspersky on whether they can work out “a framework that we and others can independently verify, which would give the Government assurance about the security of their involvement in the wider UK market.”
Could the Russian Government Block Kaspersky’s Move?
Despite this plan, Reuters reports that reliable sources believe Russian authorities might challenge the move to Switzerland.
According to Reuters, “the move could be derailed by the Russian security services, who might resist moving the data center outside of their jurisdiction, according to people familiar with Kaspersky Lab and its relations with the Russian government.”
Furthermore, allegations have emerged that the FSB Federal Security Service—the former KGB—“exerts influence over Kaspersky management decisions, though the company has repeatedly denied those allegations. “
Kaspersky Lab produces anti-virus software and has more than 400 million customers throughout the globe.