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The documents reviewed by Mc Clatchy, however, could provide additional evidence that the clandestine FSB has a tight relationship with Kaspersky.
But “the suggestion is that this is a government op (operation), a unit with a direct government affiliation,” he said.
“These guys’ families, their well-being, everything they have is in Russia,” said Steve Hall, who later headed the agency’s Russian operations before retiring in 2015. “Any time (Russian President Vladimir Putin) wants Kaspersky to do something – anything – he’ll remind them that’s where their families are and where their bank accounts are.
There’s no doubt in my mind it could be, if it’s not already, under the control of Putin.” Kaspersky has rejected any notion that it might be an intelligence front, citing its years of delivering quality products.
“It is common view around the intelligence community that [Kaspersky] is treated [by the Kremlin] like an arm of the Russian government,” said a former Obama administration cyber official, who asked for anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
Kaspersky has gained an unwanted spotlight lately amid the Justice Department’s investigation headed by outside Special Counsel Robert Mueller into whether the Kremlin colluded with President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign.