Protecting Your Computer
This post is not really about Web marketing, but lately I’ve seen a dangerous message delivered by computer security professionals about Kaspersky and I want to refute it.
Today the Internet is full of attackers, from many sources. It’s important for each of us to run security software on our computers. Which one should you choose?
The choice is an important one. Anti-virus software must reach deep into the operating system. If our anti-virus software itself is corrupt, then none of our information on the computer is safe, and we won’t even know when it’s stolen or changed.
There are a number of good choices, but there’s one you absolutely should not choose under any circumstances–Kaspersky Labs’ products.
The computer security environment in Russia is challenging. Those of us who see attacks on Web sites know that a large number of them come from Russia. I routinely block all traffic from Russia from all my clients’ sites, to reduce the number of hacking attempts.
In addition to cyber criminal activity that seems to flourish in Russia, there is also the threat posed by the Russian government. On the international stage, Russia is an adversary of the United States, and acts to destabilize our system of government, using cyber attacks as part of that effort. So we know that, in addition to the threat of criminal activity, it’s also possible that the government can be involved in cyber espionage.
In the U.S., a company can’t legally spy on us through anti-virus software, and if they get caught at it, there will be serious penalties. We’re also protected against the government–they can’t come after our computers secretly without getting a warrant from a senior federal judge. Russia doesn’t offer such a robust legal system, particularly with regard to protection from the government.
Either from criminal activity or from government espionage, it’s possible that an anti-virus product coming from Russia will have code inserted to assist hackers.
Kaspersky, the owner of the company, claims to have no ties to the Russian government and no relationship with Russian intelligence.
But can we trust this statement? If he was working with Russian intelligence, would he announce it? He wouldn’t dare–such a statement would have dire consequences for him. So we must reject as meaningless any statement by Kaspersky that his company has nothing to do with Russian intelligence services.
Even if Kaspersky himself believes that his software is free from tampering, it’s possible that criminal elements or the government have “persuaded” one or more of his employees to secretly insert code to help hackers, without knowledge of company management. Again, because Russia lacks our robust system of laws, their legal system offers us little protection.
What This Means
The argument against using Kaspersky security software is purely non-technical, and doesn’t rest on any evidence that their products have been tampered with. All things being equal, our computers are better protected with anti-virus software that’s developed in the U.S. legal environment.
What I Use
I’ve never had a computer hacked in years of using AVG Free virus protection. You have to put up with AVG trying to sell you the paid version, but if you’re willing to do that you can have great virus protection for free.
There is some merit to the argument that a very popular anti-virus product, if it’s used on millions and millions of computers, can itself become the target of an attack. For this reason, there may be some additional safety in using a less popular product, such as AVG.
The Bottom Line
Absolutely don’t use security software from Kaspersky. If you have it, replace it. Now.