Kaspersky’s U.S. spat a sign of Balkanisation in cyber world: Interpol

By Jack Stubbs

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Divisions along national lines, including actions taken by the United States against Russia’s Kaspersky Lab, are making it harder to effectively fight cross-border cyber crime, a senior Interpol official told Reuters on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration barred U.S. government agencies from using Kaspersky Lab anti-virus products in September, saying it was concerned the firm was vulnerable to Kremlin influence and using its software could jeopardize national security.

Kaspersky Lab has strongly denied the allegations, arguing that it has been caught up in a wider geopolitical spat between Moscow and Washington following allegations Russian hackers interfered in last year’s U.S. presidential election.

Moscow denies the accusations and some researchers have pointed to the company’s problems in the United States as an example of growing fragmentation in the cyber security industry after a series high-profile attacks which have fueled distrust and suspicion between countries.

“Balkanisation, especially in the cyber security community – that is happening and that needs to be corrected,” said Noboru Nakatani, executive director of Interpol’s Global Complex for Innovation.

“The reality is criminals, they are working together by sharing information by helping each other to make money,” he said at a cyber crime conference in Moscow. “Do you think the governments or the good people are doing the same?”

Speaking on the sidelines of the conference organized by Russian cyber security firm Group-IB, Nakatani said Kaspersky Lab’s situation was an example of Balkanisation.

He said Interpol, which coordinates international efforts to fight cyber and other crimes, had not received any information from the United States about the allegations against the company.

“Kaspersky is fighting against cyber criminals, it is very clear. Kaspersky is working with governments and companies across the world,” he said. “We should work together.”

A U.S. House of Representatives committee said last week it had scheduled a new hearing to review accusations Russia could use Kaspersky Lab products to conduct espionage.

The Oct. 25 hearing was announced a day after two newspapers reported that Russian hackers stole U.S. cyber secrets in 2015 from a National Security Agency contractor who had Kaspersky software installed on his laptop. Kaspersky Lab strongly denied any wrongdoing.

(Reporting by Jack Stubbs; Editing by Christian Lowe and Alison Williams)

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