Kaspersky Lab accused of sabotaging rivals with fake malware

Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s leading Internet security companies, is being accused of sabotaging its rivals by tricking them with fake malware, according to a bombshell report by Reuters.

A pair of former Kaspersky employees told Reuters that the Russian company would inject bad code to misclassify certain important files, fooling competing companies into believing they were infected. Some companies reportedly disabled or deleted the actually harmless files. Microsoft and two Czech firms, AVG Technologies and Avast Software, were among those targeted, the report said. The employees told Reuters that company co-founder Eugene Kaspersky wanted to retaliate against competitors who he believed were copying his security software.

The anonymous sources said such attacks took place over a 10-year period, peaking between 2009 and 2013.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab strongly denied the charges. “Our company has never conducted any secret campaign to trick competitors into generating false positives to damage their market standing,” the company said in a statement to Reuters. “Such actions are unethical, dishonest and their legality is at least questionable.”

In a tweet Friday, Kaspersky himself called the story “complete BS.”

The charges, though, may be hard to disprove. It is worth noting that major players have an interest in discrediting Kaspersky. The company has reportedly been the target of hacks by both the NSA and its British counterpart, GCHQ, in efforts to subvert its antivirus software, and Kaspersky made few friends in the Western intelligence community after exposing the Stuxnet and Flame viruses used against Iranian nuclear facilities several years ago.

But if true, the accusations could be devastating to Kaspersky Labs, which bills itself as the world’s largest private Internet security firm, with 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients.


At top: AP file photo/Damian Dovarganes


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