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The head of anti-malware company Kaspersky Lab says he had no idea why the US is taking aim at his company but thinks it may be due to the current crisis in relations between Moscow and Washington.

Eugene Kaspersky told iTWire in response to queries: "I have no insider knowledge, but it seems it's a result of current crisis in relations between Russia and the US.

"There could be some grudge because we've unearthed many different advanced attacks and threat actors speaking all sorts of languages including English (and Russian and Chinese and many more, but those with a grudge probably don't care).

"And third, someone may be unhappy with our market success (and) might be using the moment to hit us."

The US government is reviewing whether to continue using Kaspersky's anti-malware software in its offices, with unsubstantiated claims floating around to the effect that Russia is using the software to spy on the US.

US Defence Intelligence Agency director Vincent Stewart was quoted earlier this month saying, "we are tracking Kaspersky and their software".

Eugene Kaspersky has denied such charges and offered to testify before the US Senate in order to clear up the issue. Asked about this, he said, "I haven't heard of a response so far. But the offer is on the table."

The Russian bogeyman has been raised on numerous occasions by members of the US Democrat Party after its candidate, Hillary Clinton, was beaten in the presidential poll last year. There were allegations of a Russian hand in leaking emails from the Democrat National Committee, which the party claims played a pivotal role in Clinton's loss.

More recently, US President Donald Trump's first choice as national security adviser, General Michael Flynt, had to quit because he had not told the truth about contacts with Russian officials.

And the head of the FBI, James Comey, was fired by Trump; Comey was heading a probe to discover whether there was Russian meddling in the polls.

Asked whether the whole affair had affected sales, Eugene Kaspersky said he would leave the answer to Anastasia Para Rae, the company's new general manager of Australia and New Zealand, who had been in the job seven days and had more local insight on the business.

"We are the leader in endpoint security," she said. "We are known by our clients, counterparts, partners, peers and (technology research company) Gartner for our expertise in solutions in this area. Quarter 1 of 2017 is already off to a great start as Kaspersky Lab ANZ has achieved their targets over the given target."

Eugene Kaspersky was asked whether this was some form of revenge for what US officials see as Russian state meddling in American political processes.

He responded: "I don't know what are their motives are, and I really hope we can address all the concerns and overcome any misunderstandings. The sooner the better."

He was in Australia this week as a keynote speaker at CeBIT in Sydney.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the sitecame into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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