The intelligence service of UK suspects Russia to use Kaspersky security software to spy on over 2 million Barclays customers. Certain Whitehall official has revealed this shocking news anonymously to The Financial Times.
It’s been since 2008, Barclays has provided Kaspersky security software to its online banking customers for free. Right now, Barclays has almost 2 million online banking customers. This anonymous source has revealed that UK’s intelligence agency GCHQ is worried that Russia might be using the software to spy on customers including potential government workers and even military personnel.
Russian firm Kaspersky was founded by billionaire Eugene Kaspersky who was trained at a technical facility sponsored by Russia’s the then security agency, the FSB.
Eugene Kaspersky has clearly denied any such claim. He was quoted by a CNN reporter, “This story is based on rumors from unnamed sources, rather than specific facts that we can address.”
Financial Times believes Barclays is looking forward to concluding its commercial collaboration with Kaspersky. It can be due to strict commercial reasons though, suggested some spokesperson. The bank has firmly denied accusations of receiving advice to stop the use of Kaspersky products, from GCHQ’s commercial arm, the NSCS.
The NSCS declined this news of banning the use of Kaspersky products, as well. A spokesman was quoted, “The NCSC has never advised Barclays against the use of Kaspersky products. Any suggestion to the contrary is categorically untrue. The NCSC is not a regulator and does not mandate or ban any products. Our certification schemes do not currently cover anti-virus or anti-malware services.”
Adam Maskatiya, general manager in the UK and Ireland for Kaspersky, said “Kaspersky Lab continues to work with Barclays to provide its customers with internet security. Barclays, through its global reach, has done much to improve public awareness of cybersecurity threats and we look forward to continuing our relationship to help keep its customers protected online.”
As of now, there’s still no official British line on Kaspersky and its rumored links to the Russian government.
In October, the company did acknowledge that its software located secret files on a private US computer. Those files were then sent to Moscow for analysis. These files later turned out to contain surveillance tools that were developed by NSA.
Denying any kind of inappropriate ties to any government, a Kaspersky spokesman said, “Kaspersky Lab assists law enforcement agencies around the world with cyber threats, including those in Russia, by providing cyber security expertise on malware and cyber attacks. When assisting in official government cybercrime investigations, the company only provides technical expertise throughout the investigation to help the organization catch cybercriminals.”
Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyber threats, but it does not have unethical ties or disreputable affiliations with any government, including Russia.