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Kaspersky Lab Ditches 'Toxic Media Environment,' Focuses On TransparencyKaspersky Lab Ditches 'Toxic Media Environment,' Focuses On Transparency

Kaspersky Lab's global MSP program now includes 1,000 partners.

Edward Gately

May 10, 2018

6 Min Read
Kaspersky Trusted Advisors Summit Scottsdale

(Pictured above: (left to right) Jason Stein, Kaspersky VP of channel; Alejandro Arango, global director of corporate communications; and Tara Hairston, head of government relations, North America, at the Kaspersky Lab Trusted Advisor Partner Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 10, 2018.)

KASPERSKY LAB TRUSTED ADVISOR PARTNER CONFERENCE — Kaspersky Lab on Thursday unveiled its latest cybersecurity technologies, and gave an update on its efforts toward transparency and fighting negative media coverage in light of last fall’s allegations that led to a federal ban on using the Moscow-based company’s products within the U.S. government.

Kaspersky Lab’s Trusted Advisor Partner Conference includes about 80 individuals and 60 partners. The company’s global partner program for MSPs, which launched in April 2017, has reached 1,000 registered partners, including more than 400 partners in North America.

Just last month,Twitter announced it will no longer run ads from Kaspersky, claiming the company’s alleged dealings with the Russian government violate its ad policies. Kaspersky still can post tweets on the site. The company’s antivirus has been removed from all federal government computer systems, while its software remains on some contractor systems.

Alejandro Arango, Kaspersky’s global director of corporate communications, told attendees that last November was a “very toxic media environment for us,” but the first quarter showed “dramatic” improvement. The company has launched a new transparency website, with information about the company and how it works, data processing, principals for combating cybercrime and how it works with law enforcement, and people who support the company, he said.

“In the first quarter, about 90 percent of (media) coverage in the United States was either positive or neutral,” he said. “We continue to fight every single day. Yes, there’s still a lot of stuff going on with the company, but we’re working really hard to get good results from media coverage. Next week we will have a big announcement on our global transparency initiative.”

When asking for feedback, one partner said he would like to see Kaspersky direct its message more toward customers, while another said allowing a white label that didn’t include the Kaspersky name would eliminate any customer concerns.

Calance's Jeff LekoJeff Leko is technical supervisor for service desk delivery at Calance, an IT service management company. It deploys Kaspersky at Isuzu North America.

“Right now, we only do the endpoint protection and we’re trying to start to widen that to some of the other offerings,” he said. “We have customer clients who are in manufacturing, who are in automotive manufacturing … and we’re trying to move them toward some of the other threat detection and the behavioral authentication to see how somebody types in their password and use that to determine if it’s the user or somebody else.”

Negative press about Kaspersky didn’t dampen Calance’s trust in the company, Leko said.

“At one of our client’s meetings – and they had all of their sales guys out there – one person stood up and said, ‘Hey, are we still going to use Kaspersky?'” he said. “And their director of IT stood up and said, ‘Yes we are, it’s great for us, we’ve got no complaints. And there’s been zero actual evidence presented. Nobody’s ever shown a single line of code.'”

Tara Hairston, Kaspersky’s head of government relations for North America, said her company plans to establish three transparency centers by 2020 — in North America, Asia and Europe. The centers will provide access to …

… Kaspersky’s source code for products, services and software, she said.

“We understand there’s been a lot of skepticism,” she said. “The global geopolitical climate is so hot. There’s a general lack of trust when it comes to IT right now. You’re seeing that in a number of countries. So some are saying we’re only going to source from companies in my country. That doesn’t really make a lot of sense … because software is a global business. Doesn’t really give you a sense of security, but that’s where much of the world is going.”

Kaspersky has completed initial discussions with various government agencies globally, and increased bug-bounty awards, Hairston said. It’s in the process of establishing the first transparency center in Europe, redesigning its back-end R&D infrastructure, and other initiative measures, she said.

“We want people who are suspicious to look at our code,” she said. “We’ve made the offer for the U.S. government to look at our source code and they haven’t taken us up on it.”

Alessio Aceti, Kaspersky’s vice president of new business, said his company continues to invest in R&D and has developed an advanced cybersecurity portfolio that features a comprehensive set of next-generation solutions. It also is focusing on automotive, blockchain, digital identity, smart devices and connected everything.

Kaspersky provides industrial cybersecurity targeting oil and gas, energy, continuous production, chemistry and metallurgy, he said. Protection of industrial systems is increasingly important because of growing connectivity to corporate networks, he said.

Kaspersky’s industrial cybersecurity includes both software and services.

“During 2017, every one of three industrial nodes faced cyberattack,” Aceti said.

Kaspersky’s cloud-based fraud prevention includes advanced authentication and automated fraud analytics. It’s geared toward businesses with digital channels: finance, loyalty and bonus programs, government, gambling and gaming, health care and e-commerce.

In terms of transportation, Kaspersky is focused on securing connected vehicles, Aceti said. Cybercriminals are targeting smart vehicles to know the location of, and spy on drivers and monitor their habits, he said.

Kaspersky plans to introduce threat deception; seven customers are testing it now, he said. The company wants partners to become involved in product testing, he said.

Jim Grant, president of JBK Network Consulting, said Kaspersky has always been “very innovative, sort of ahead of the game on most of the problem protection that we need in the reseller community.”

“I had no idea that …

… they were going to those different places and that those were threats that we needed to think about,” he said. “I thought the automotive one was very interesting, that you could be going down the road, and you’re connected to your satellite radio or satellite communication, and you could get a man-in-the-middle attack and they change your GPS coordinates. Or even to steal information off your iPhone, take all your contacts and you don’t even realize it. Those kinds of things are a lot to think about. And it sure looks like [Kaspersky] is driving a path to new-generation solutions for protection, which is what everybody is looking for.”

In terms of trusting Kaspersky, Grant said all his customers asked questions at the height of the controversy.

“I basically said to them, ‘What information do you have that you would never want the Russian government to have”” he said. “What does your law firm have to worry about a possible problem like the Department of Defense is worried about? What they’re worried about is not what you should be worried about. What they’re worried about is the fact that they can’t prove that they’re not taking the information, and Kaspersky wouldn’t be the product that it is if it [were] stealing all this information, because somebody would have caught them by now. They’re going to get caught if that’s what they’re doing.”

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About the Author(s)

Edward Gately

Senior News Editor, Channel Futures

As news editor, Edward Gately covers cybersecurity, new channel programs and program changes, M&A and other IT channel trends. Prior to Informa, he spent 26 years as a newspaper journalist in Texas, Louisiana and Arizona.

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