US officials are being increasingly public about their hostility toward “all things Russian” lately, and that growing paranoia has now turned the US government’s attention toward Kaspersky Lab, a large, Moscow-based software company popular for its anti-virus software.
Anti-virus software is big business, and in independent testing Kaspersky is almost always in top two, or top three, and often the number one. That’s made them among the most popular anti-virus solutions in America, for consumers, businesses, and government agencies.
A secret memorandum has been making the rounds in the US government warning that if the Russian government has ties with Kaspersky, and if they were able to do so, they might conceivably use the popularity of the anti-virus software to do something to the US.
That’s a lot of “ifs,” of course, and as is so often the case there appears to be no evidence of any such plot. Indeed, the whole thing appears based on Kaspersky Lab being a Russian company, and one time in 2009 when Kaspersky invited then-President Dmitry Medvedev to their Moscow office.
Founder Eugene Kaspersky is of course denying any wrongdoing, noting that the Russian government would need warrants to get customer data, and that there is virtually no relationship between the company and the government.
All of the talk about the plot appears to be flights of fancy, Marco Rubio and others pushing for a blanket ban on the federal government’s use of Kaspersky products, with some presenting Kaspersky’s high quality and modest cost as though that was itself sign that they must be up to no good.
The lack of evidence didn’t stop the scare-mongering, with officials noting that water treatment plants and a lot of local governments run Kaspersky software, with former NSA Director Keith Alexander urging them to stop. Not that it’s bad software, because it’s not. Because it’s Russian.