Kaspersky CEO says he would leave if Russia asked him to
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[November 29, 2017]
By Guy Faulconbridge and Eric Auchard
LONDON (Reuters) - The founder of
Moscow-based anti-virus software company Kaspersky Lab said on Tuesday
he would quit Russia if its intelligence agencies ever asked his company
to spy for it.
CEO Eugene Kaspersky said accusations his software had been used by
Russian spies to steal American secrets had caused the company's revenue
to decline in North America, but said it was still growing in other
parts of the world.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has banned government agencies
from using Kaspersky Lab software, after concluding that the company's
anti-virus software had been used to copy sensitive files with American
The company and its founder Eugene Kaspersky have strongly denied they
ever cooperated with Russian intelligence, although they have said their
software inadvertantly copied files containing U.S. data.
"Never, never," the founder told reporters at a media briefing at the
company's offices in London, when asked if Russian intelligence agencies
had ever asked him to help spy on the West. "They have never asked us to
spy on people. Never."
Kaspersky said his company had faced a "tsunami" of media reports and
statements from the U.S. government which he said were misleading and
Kaspersky said his company's revenues would top $700 million globally
this year. But revenue in North America would be about 5 to 8 percent
lower this fiscal year than last year as a result of the U.S.
accusations, he said.
Revenue in Europe is expected to be flat while revenue in the rest of
the world would continue to see double-digit growth, he predicted.
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Eugene Kaspersky makes a presentation at a press conference in
London, Britain November 28, 2017. REUTERS/Mary Turner
Kaspersky, who studied in a KGB institute in Moscow, once served as an engineer
for Soviet military intelligence (GRU) before founding his computer security
company in the years following the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. He has
repeatedly denied that he has done any favors for his former spy colleagues.
"If the Russian government comes to me and asks me to (do) anything wrong, or my
employees, I will move the business out of Russia," Kaspersky said in English.
"We never helped the espionage agencies, the Russians or any other nation."
He said his products were "designed to stop attacks, to recognize malicious
code, not to spy on our customers."
Kaspersky, 52, said his company was initially confused and shocked by media
reports about alleged collusion between his company and Russian intelligence.
He said Kaspersky security software inadvertently vacuumed up source code for
malicious software on a computer of a Maryland-based Kaspersky software user in
Once a researcher working nearby his office informed him that the code appeared
to be tied to classified spying tools believed to be connected to the U.S.
National Security Agency, Kaspersky said he immediate ordered the sample to be
Kaspersky said his company would fight to protect its reputation: "We will
fight," he said.
(Editing by Peter Graff)
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