IN A bid to reassure customers of its products’ integrity following a US government ban, cyber-security firm Kaspersky Lab has opened its first transparency centre in Switzerland as part of a global initiative to ease concern.
Kaspersky Lab, founded by Eugene Kaspersky, a Russian cyber-security expert, has faced what it calls unfounded US accusations due to its ties with the Russian state.
Citing security and other concerns, the US government earlier imposed its ban on the firm’s products, resulting in some customers’ concern in the international markets, including those in Asia Pacific and Thailand.
The firm has been fighting back with a new public relations and marketing campaign to dismiss as groundless the allegations that its products could lead to possible backdoor and other unlawful access to customers’ data.
In this context, Kaspersky Lab has also moved its core processes from Russia to Switzerland, including customer data storage and processing facilities as well as software assembly and threat detection updates.
In addition, an independent third party based in Switzerland, will supervise these activities to ensure global transparency and collaboration. The relocation will be |completed next year, covering users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan, South Korea and other markets with products and threat detection rule databases built and certified in Zurich, before being distributed to customers worldwide.
Stephan Neumeier, managing director of Kaspersky Lab Asia Pacific, said the firm is pushing for a paradigm shift in greater transparency for the cyber security industry by making available the source code of its products and software updates for review by responsible stakeholders.
According to Anton Shingarev, vice president for public affairs, protectionism and balkanisation have hit the cyber security industry so the firm needs to address this issue by setting the new standard on transparency and accountability.
Neumeier said businesses should request the source code disclosures so that biases will be eliminated for greater public benefits.
Oleg Abdurashitov, head of public affairs for Asia Pacific, said there is a tendency to squeeze foreign cyber-security firms out of their respective markets amid the growing militarisation of cyber space.
He said Kaspersky Lab is in trouble because it’s ahead of the curve in the cyber-security sector and some foreign governments are not happy about the firm’s ability to detect threats anywhere and in any language.
Neumeier admitted that some customers might be worried about the possibilities of the Russian government accessing Kaspersky’s infrastructure so the firm decided to set up the first transparency centre in Switzerland, which has a strict law on data protection.
It is also difficult to get a court order to release any sensitive data in Switzerland.
Overall, the firm expects to regain customer trust in its products following the US government’s action against the firm.
Besides Zurich, the firm also has discussed plans to open more transparency centres in Singapore and Canada to create a global network for accountability and trustworthiness.
The US was previously a major market for Kaspersky Lab’s products.
As a result of the US government’s ban, the firm has stepped up marketing efforts in other parts of the world, especially Asia Pacific and Southeast Asian markets where sales growth rates remain double-digit.