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Cyber expert: People are missing the real question we should ask about Israel spying on Iran talks

KasperskySergei Karpukhin/Reuters

The global cybersecurity firm that uncovered sophisticated spyware in the computers of European hotels hosting the Iran nuclear talks has reported on the powerful Israeli-linked virus before.

Interestingly, however, Kaspersky Lab — a Moscow-based firm — has only ever traced spyware with similar espionage capabilities as the “Duqu” code detailed to the Wall Street Journal.

“The use of Duqu by Israel against Iran is not the question we should be asking,” Jeff Bardin, chief intelligence officer of Treadstone 71, told Business Insider. “The question should be why Kaspersky only finds code of this type by nation-states it does not consider friendly to Russia or those aligned to the West.”

Kaspersky Lab is a leading cybersecurity firm that helps millions of people worldwide, including Americans, protect their data from cyber criminals. While the firm is often aggressive in its pursuit of foreign hackers, however, it tends to turn a blind eye to hackers operating inside Russia.

“Is it because there is no code of this type [Duqu] coming out of Russia?” Bardin asks, “Or is it because disclosing code of this type that is Russian made and in use against target nation-states would place Eugene Kaspersky at risk of countering his country’s cyber espionage efforts and, at risk of incurring the wrath of Putin?”

The firm’s billionaire founder and CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, used to work for the KGB and reportedly maintains relationships with former and current Russian intelligence officials.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Yevgeny KasperskyREUTERS/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Vladimir RodionovRussian President Dmitry Medvedev (R) and Yevgeny Kaspersky, creator of anti-virus protection for computer information, look round the office of Kaspersky Lab in Moscow June 18, 2009.

“Kaspersky releases this information as a political tool,” Bardin said. “The absence of any photos of Kaspersky with Putin on the internet is itself evidence of direct alignment. Can you be a billionaire in Russia today without the direct scrutiny of Vladimir Putin?”

A Bloomberg analysis of Kapersky’s work generally supports Bardin’s suspicions: “While Kaspersky Lab has published a series of reports that examined alleged electronic espionage by the U.S., Israel, and the U.K., the company hasn’t pursued alleged Russian operations with the same vigour.”

If anything, it appears that Kaspersky is at least partially aligned ideologically with the Kremlin — he has claimed in the past that some social networks have “too much freedom,” hinting that government regulation might not be such a bad thing.

“Freedom is good,” Wired quotes him as saying, referring to sites like Facebook. “But the bad guys — they can abuse this freedom to manipulate public opinion.”

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