Two of Kaspersky Lab’s top US executives have cleaned out their desk after they failed to convince US government officials that not everyone in Russia is a pawn in Tsar Putin’s game.
The company’s leader of its North American operations and the head of a Washington-area office went as it struggles to win US government contracts.
Company Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky confirmed the changes in an interview with Reuters during a visit to China but claimed the two personnel changes were unrelated.
Kaspersky said the North America head Christopher Doggett had gone to a competitor while Kaspersky “decided to change leadership in DC,” where the two-year-old office pursues work protecting government agencies and critical infrastructure.
Doggett and former Washington-area head Adam Firestone are not saying anything.
But the shakeup comes at a time when Kaspersky says it is hard for non-American security companies to win bids for federal jobs and big US corporate contracts. The Americans were not really loyal to any non-American products and only British companies are treated in the same way as the Americans.
Kaspersky has been the foremost researcher uncovering Western government spyware for the past several years. Earlier this year, it said it had itself been attacked by one of the most sophisticated strains uncovered to date, with an intrusion it hinted came from U.S. ally Israel.
Kaspersky has also come under US. scrutiny for other reasons after claims that it distributed malware samples that were designed to trigger false positives by rival companies, prompting them to isolate legitimate software on users’ computers. Kaspersky denied it.
But the stories apparently drew attention in the White House and intelligence agencies and decreased Kaspersky’s chances of getting significant government contracts.
The Russian Government is coming up with justifications for banning proxy server access and hacking Tor networks.
Leonid Levin, Chairman of the Duma Committee on Information Policy, Information Technologies and Communications, proposed to consider limiting access to anonymising networks such as Tor and VPNs. Levin said that the world was a tough place and it needed tougher policing.
Levin also opined that restricting access to proxy networks which would “increase opportunities to counter the commercial distribution of malware” and also help to impede access to “forbidden” information.
Vadim Ampelonsky, the press secretary of Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor supported Levin’s stance on Tor, claiming that the technological obstacles to blocking The Onion Router’s obfuscation protocols are “difficult, but solvable,”
The Safe Internet League, which consists of Russia’s state telecom company Rostelecom and two other major mobile providers, slammed Tor. Its spokesman Denis Davydov said: “We strongly support the idea of limiting Russia’s access to anonymous networks, including Tor. The ‘Invisible’ Internet has made it possible for offenders of all kinds to hide their intentions from the state and use it to commit crimes: acquiring drugs and weapons, distributing child pornography, trafficking in human beings – including sex slaves – and leading political struggle.”
It a return to the old language of the cold war, he added “do not forget that Tor was developed and is used by Americans, including US intelligence agencies, to expand the hegemony of the United States around the world.”
Nanning anonymising networks would increase user-trust among the Russian people and lead to economic benefits, having described Tor as an ‘Anonymous network used primarily to commit crimes’.
Roskomnadzor already maintains a government blacklist of forbidden sites, updates to which are regularly circulated to network providers, who are then obliged to block the domains.
The Fruity Cargo Cult Apple’s attempts to spread the worship of its founder Steve Jobs has fallen foul of Russia’s backward homophobia.
This week Apple CEO Tim Cook revealed the badly kept secret that he was gay, and while that was well received in most of the world it has created a backlash in Russia.
The two-metre-high monument, in the shape of an iPhone, was erected outside a St Petersburg college in January 2013 by the West European Financial Union companies called ZEFS.
But Russia has strict laws against “gay propaganda” and ZEFS said that the memorial had been removed from the courtyard of the Techno Park in St. Petersburg, Russia. Photo.
“In Russia, gay propaganda and other sexual perversions among minors are prohibited by law,” ZEFS said, noting the memorial had been “in an area of direct access for young students and scholars.”
“After Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly called for sodomy, the monument was taken down to abide to the Russian federal law protecting children from information promoting denial of traditional family values.”
The move is clearly an attempt to butter up Tsar Vladimir Putin who considers homosexuality a moral issue. Putin insists that there is no discrimination against gay people in Russia and the law was needed only to protect young people. It has also encouraged those of a less intelligent disposition to beat up and lynch young gay people.
But Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, was not gay and it is not clear what Maxim Dolgopolov, the head of ZEFS who ordered the removal of the monument
“Sin should not become the norm. There is nothing to do in Russia for whose who intend to violate our laws,” he said.
Dolgopolov’s implication is that Apple is a gay cult lead by its founder and ruled by its immoral boss and is working to subvert the children of Russia with its homosexual ways. The whole concept is silly, and if Apple were big in Russia it could have seriously damaged its business reputation.
Tsar Vladimir Putin of Russia is envious of the fact that President Barak Obama can flick a switch and turn off the internet.
Apparently the Kremlin is to discuss taking control of the .ru domain and measures to disconnect Russians from the web in the event of a serious military confrontation or big anti-government protests at home.
Putin will discuss what steps Moscow might take to disconnect Russian citizens from the web “in an emergency”, the Vedomosti newspaper reported.
It means that it would strengthen Russia’s sovereignty in cyberspace, but also bring the domain .ru under state control.
Putin controls the TV and the country’s newspapers, but has left the internet as an open place for discussion. At the moment it is policed by state-sponsored bloggers and Putin fans.
The move seems to come as Putin is squaring off against Western media which it thinks is unfair in its coverage of the invasion of the Ukraine. Apparently Putin is furious that the Western media does not agree with his decision to arm Russian nationalists so that they can shoot down passenger jets or refuse to print his claim that the Ukraine government are really Nazis.
Of course the fact that the Russians beat up a BBC team that went to investigate reports of Russian servicemen killed in Ukraine does not really endear him to the Western hacks.
According to Vedomosti, Russia plans to introduce the new measures early next year. Russia has mooted building a “national internet”, which would in effect be a domestic intranet. These proposals go further, expanding the government’s control over ordinary Russian internet users and their digital habits.
It would be technically possible for Moscow to shut off the internet because Russia has “surprisingly few” international exchange points. All of them are under the control of national long-distance operations, like Rostelecom, which is onside with Putin.
Putin is popular but the economy, which is already teetering on the verge of recession, is reeling from ever more stringent Western sanctions over Moscow’s alleged support for separatists in eastern-Ukraine.
NATO is going to revise its treaty so that a cyber attack on one of its members will count as a hostile threat for all of them.
The plan is that when President Obama meets with other NATO leaders later this week, they are expected to ratify the idea that a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, similar to a ground invasion or an airborne bombing.
This should put the fear of god into Russia, which was believed behind computer attacks that disrupted financial and telecommunications systems in Estonia in 2007 and Georgia in 2008, and is believed to have used them in the early days of the Ukraine crisis as well.
NATO is a bit behind when it comes to cyber security, although it now has just built a nice new computer security centre. It does run computer exercises but it possesses no cyberweapons of its own and has no cunning plan how it might use the weapons of member states to strike back in a computer conflict.
The United States and Britain, have spent billions of dollars on secret computer offensive programs but they have not told NATO leaders what kind of weapons they might contribute in a NATO-led computer conflict.
The change in NATO’s definition of an “armed attack” will leave deliberately unclear what would constitute a cyberattack so large that the alliance might think that this would be a declaration of war.
Apparently the alliance is hoping that the impact of the attack will help define the matter. Defence experts point out that deterrence is all about ambiguity, and the implicit threat that NATO would enter a computer conflict in defence of one of its members is full of those ambiguities.
Tsar Vladimir Putin is taking his revenge on the US for bringing in sanctions against its Ukraine activity by cutting back on the use of American technology.
Apparently Putin is cross about the sanctions which froze the business assets of some of his closest business supporters. He thinks he should be allowed to supply missiles to pro-Russian supporters to use how they see fit without any world sanctions.
It looks like Putin is taking out his frustrations on US companies like Microsoft and IBM and ordering the country to be less reliant on Yankee tech.
Russia’s executive secretary of the commission for the State Duma, Andrey Chernogorov, was quoted as saying, “This all has to do with sanctions. Given the current international tensions, substituting imports with local software and hardware becomes the key to ensuring self sufficiency.”
The State Duma is currently in the process of drafting a bill which would seek to replace products from Microsoft and IBM in favour of software and hardware made by local companies.
It looks like the Russians will eventually only buy products that do not need to be imported or have licensed components.
It is not clear how that will play out yet. Probably some support or pressure to move to Open Source products. That might work well with the software, but hardware dependence on US, made in China, goods will be harder to shake.