Eugene Kaspersky. I had heard the name before, but never really read much about him until I came across Wired magazine’s excellent article of a couple days ago. This guy is no piker. He is one of Russia’s wealthiest businessmen and runs a cyber-security company called Kaspersky Labs. This is major corporation with tentacles that run into the lives of many Americans without them knowing it. For example:
Between 2009 and 2010, according to Forbes, retail sales of Kaspersky antivirus software increased 177 percent, reaching almost 4.5 million a year—nearly as much as its rivals Symantec and McAfee combined. Worldwide, 50 million people are now members of the Kaspersky Security Network, sending data to the company’s Moscow headquarters every time they download an application to their desktop. Microsoft, Cisco, and Juniper Networks all embed Kaspersky code in their products—effectively giving the company 300 million users. When it comes to keeping computers free from infection, Kaspersky Lab is on its way to becoming an industry leader.
Well, why should we care about this guy? In the article, it is clear that he tries hard to portray himself as some sort of internet freedom fighter, trying to protect us all from the dangers of viruses. The truth; however, seems far different. He clearly loves being surrounded by the political and business elite of the world, and we should also be concerned by the fact that since the ripe age of 16 he was taken in by the KGB and nurtured within that system. Furthermore, anyone that makes statements like “protecting our right to freedom we actually sacrifice it!” is someone that should concern us. For additional disturbing quotes that demonstrate what is really going on in this man’s mind see the following excerpts from the article:
What is mentioned is Kaspersky’s vision for the future of Internet security—which by Western standards can seem extreme. It includes requiring strictly monitored digital passports for some online activities and enabling government regulation of social networks to thwart protest movements. “It’s too much freedom there,” Kaspersky says, referring to sites like Facebook. “Freedom is good. But the bad guys—they can abuse this freedom to manipulate public opinion.”
The ITU was once a bureaucratic backwater. In recent years, however, the Russian and Chinese governments have been pushing to give the agency a central role in governing the Internet. Instead of the US-dominated nonprofits that currently coordinate domain names and promote technical standards, they want to turn authority over to a gathering of national governments represented by the ITU. It’s a move that one of the Internet’s creators, Vint Cerf, told Congress risks “losing the open and free Internet,” because it would transfer power from geeks to government bureaucrats. The ITU is set to revisit the 24-year-old treaty governing international telecommunications in December.
Kaspersky and the Moscow government have espoused strikingly similar views on cybersecurity. This goes beyond the security industry’s basic mission of keeping data safe. When Kaspersky or Kremlin officials talk about responses to online threats, they’re not just talking about restricting malicious data—they also want to restrict what they consider malicious information, including words and ideas that can spur unrest.
Kaspersky can’t stand social networks like Facebook or its Russian competitor, VK (formerly known as VKontakte). “People can manipulate others with the fake information,” he says, “and it’s not possible to find who they are. It’s a place for very dangerous action.” Especially dangerous, he says, is the role of social networks in fueling protest movements from Tripoli to Moscow, where blogger Alexei Navalny has emerged as perhaps the most important dissident leader and sites like VK and LiveJournal have helped bring tens of thousands of people into the streets. Kaspersky sees these developments as part of a disinformation campaign by antigovernment forces to “manipulate crowds and change public opinion.”
Kaspersky denies that he blew off the DDoS attacks in an attempt to curry favor with the ruling powers. (Then he claims that pro-Putin sites got hit by the online strikes as well.) But Andrei Soldatov, a muckraking investigative journalist whose Agentura.ru site was hammered in the attacks, has a very different view: “I cannot explain Kaspersky’s ignorance by anything but conscious intention to take the Kremlin’s side, a position very weird for the independent expert he claims to be.”
Take note about how concerned he is that “people can manipulate others with fake information.” I guess only governments are allowed to do that. Right, Mr. Kaspersky?
Read the full article here.