As the conflict in Ukraine heats up, one of the possible problems that arise is whether or not Russian software can be trusted. In particular, can we trust the security product Kaspersky? The German government has recommended against its use and the US FCC has insisted that money received from government contracts cannot be used to purchase the software. But, what about regular customers? Should regular users skip the software? What about if you already have it installed?
The history of the company is a bit of a mixed bag. The company was founded in 1997 by Eugene Kaspersky and Natalya Kasperskikh. Kaspersky began his career as a virus researcher with the Russian military. He then worked for a number of private companies before starting his own. Kaspersky has been accused in the past of having ties to the Russian government, but the company has denied these allegations.
Kaspersky's products have generally been well-regarded by the security community. However, there have been some concerns raised about the software. In particular, there is a worry that Kaspersky could be used by the Russian government to spy on users. These fears were heightened when it was revealed that Kaspersky had assisted the Russian government in their investigation of the 2012 Boston Marathon bombings.
Kaspersky and Putin have a history of both working for the Soviet government, likely both in the KGB. This creates an immediate connection between the two, even if Kaspersky himself says there is no connection. This means that there could be a situation in which the company willingly implements a backdoor for the government.
On the other hand, it's always possible that Putin could threaten the safety of Kaspersky, his family, or the family of employees within the company in order to distribute malware within the software. This would actually be a fairly pedestrian task in the grand scheme of hacks and threats to come out of the Putin regime, making it fairly likely.
Given the current situation, it's understandable if you're concerned about using Kaspersky products. However, there is no evidence that Kaspersky is doing anything nefarious at the moment. If you're worried about the possibility of Russian spying, then you may want to consider using a different security product. However, if you're not concerned about that, then Kaspersky may still be a good option.
If you already have Kaspersky installed, there's no need to uninstall it. Just be aware of the potential risks and keep an eye on the news for any developments that may affect your decision to continue using the software. Regardless of what you decide, Kaspersky will continue to be a controversial company. But, for now, their products are still some of the best in the business.
While there is no evidence that suggests the software is already compromised, Avram and Scott both recommend removing the software. Scott has always taken a careful approach to the company and recommended that users consider something else (such as Malwarebytes). Avram has previously not had too much concern about the company but is being cautious now.
Whatever you decide, keep informed and make the best decision for your own security needs. Kaspersky may or may not be a trustworthy company, but only you can decide what's best for you and your family.
Scott is a developer who has worked on projects of varying sizes, including all of the PLUGHITZ Corporation properties. He is also known in the gaming world for his time supporting the rhythm game community, through DDRLover and hosting tournaments throughout the Tampa Bay Area. Currently, when he is not working on software projects or hosting F5 Live: Refreshing Technology, Scott can often be found returning to his high school days working with the Foundation for Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST), mentoring teams and helping with ROBOTICON Tampa Bay. He has also helped found a student software learning group, the ASCII Warriors, currently housed at AMRoC Fab Lab.
Avram's been in love with PCs since he played original Castle Wolfenstein on an Apple II+. Before joining Tom's Hardware, for 10 years, he served as Online Editorial Director for sister sites Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag, where he programmed the CMS and many of the benchmarks. When he's not editing, writing or stumbling around trade show halls, you'll find him building Arduino robots with his son and watching every single superhero show on the CW.