Cybersecurity business Kaspersky Lab is launching a global transparency drive to address allegations its software could be used to spy on customers.
The Russian business, which is headquartered in Moscow but run from a London-based holding company, had been accused in US media reports of facilitating the Kremlin’s theft of American hacking tools.
Kaspersky Lab denies the allegations, which chief executive and chairman Eugene Kaspersky told Sky News were “definitely not true” – but acknowledged they had damaged the company’s business in the United States.
In order to renew customer trust in Kaspersky Lab, the company is now aiming to start a complete audit of its source code by the beginning of the next financial year.
It will also set up three transparency centres globally by 2020 “to address any security issues together with customers, trusted partners and government stakeholders”.
“I’m sorry that we’re a little bit late with these transparency centres,” Mr Kaspersky told to Sky News, noting other companies had already established them.
He said they were being launched to help the company prove that there was nothing wrong with its products and services.
Video: Kaspersky is ‘sorry’ for the company’s ‘late’ transparency move
Kaspersky Lab is also increasing the reward for security researchers who find vulnerabilities in its software to $100,000 (£75,900) in a bug bounty programme which pays hackers to disclose issues so they can be fixed rather than exploited.
The several strands of external analysis of its software Kaspersky Lab is inviting is intended to reveal any security issues that could have been exploited by the Federal Security Service of Russia (FSB) without the company’s knowledge.
Earlier this month the Wall Street Journal reported that Kremlin-sponsored hackers had used Kaspersky’s software to steal National Security Agency information from the computer of an employee who had taken the material home.
The New York Times subsequently cited “multiple people who have been briefed on the matter” in a report claiming that it was Israeli hackers who discovered Russian hackers using the anti-virus software to steal American hacking tools.
How damaging the reports have been for Kaspersky “depends on the country” the company’s chief executive told Sky News, speaking directly to the media for the first time since allegations regarding his company’s relationship with Russian intelligence surfaced.
“This year we are expecting the allegations to have a negative impact on the United States. It’s not too much but unfortunately after all these stories we’ll have negative growth in the United States. But in many other nations our business is growing,” Mr Kaspersky said.