Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Honestly evaluating the Kaspersky debate

So far, Rendition has posted on the Kaspersky debate twice.  In the first post, Rendition educated the public on why a software audit would not address the fears raised by the Senate.  The second post explained the damage that any antivirus software could perform in a network if its operation were taken over by a foreign government.  The second post is about more than just Kaspsersky - as Rendition made clear in the post, it could apply to any antivirus software.

Bloomberg's reports previously unknown Kaspersky involvement with Russian government
Yesterday, Bloomberg wrote an article claiming that Kaspersky is far deeper involved with Russian intelligence than was publicly known.  At Rendition, we think parts of that reporting were careless, especially the interpretation of the words "active countermeasures."  "Active countermeasures" is not an industry standard term, a pet peeve of Rendition's founder Jake Williams, who has spoken on the topic at various industry events.  Bloomberg took the phrase "active countermeasures" to mean the following.
"Active countermeasures is a term of art among security professionals, often referring to hacking the hackers, or shutting down their computers with malware or other tricks.
We know of no such standard definition for "active countermeasures."  Even if Bloomberg got this definition from an infosec expert, any expert worth quoting would have told Bloomberg that their definition was one of many and not "generally accepted" by the community.  That this wasn't reported makes the whole article reek of bias - where there's smoke, there's usually fire.

Kaspersky responds to Bloomberg
Eugene Kaspersky posted a retort that addresses the Bloomberg article point by point. Kaspersky calls out some of the obvious problems with the article, including talking around the point made above.  But in his response, Kaspersky says something that is misleading if not outright false, and we think that needs to be addressed as well.

Read the full story here.