The Russia connectionKaspersky to move data center from Russia to Switzerland

Published 16 May 2018

Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based anti-virus maker will open a Swiss data center after allegations that Russian hackers exploited the company’s software to spy on customers. The said the new location would help it “rebuild trust.”

Kaspersky Lab earlier today (Tuesday) said it was moving its core infrastructure and operations to Switzerland after being accused by Western governments of helping the Kremlin to spy on the company’s users (see “Lawmaker demands documents on Kaspersky Lab, threatens use of compulsory process against DHS, HSNW, 2 February 2018; and “DOD to remove Kaspersky software from Pentagon systems,” HSNW, 24 October 2017).

Kaspersky told DW that the new facility, which will open next year in Zurich, is a “big and complex project” that would allow it to “address customer concerns” by “moving some of our data storage and processing to a neutral region.”

“We considered several locations for our first Transparency Center, and Switzerland most closely met our criteria as well as our policy of complete neutrality,” Stefan Rojacher, Kaspersky Lab’s corporate communications & public affairs manager said.

Rojacher said the firm valued Switzerland’s robust approach to data protection legislation.

Last year, the United States, Britain, Lithuania and other governments required government agencies, and advised companies and private users to stop using Kaspersky’s software, citing security concerns.

Western governments have been increasingly worried that the Moscow-based Kaspersky is subject to Russian laws that could require the company to comply with Russian state interests.

The United States accused the firm of working with Russia’s intelligence agencies, and that in at least one case, Russian-backed hackers used Kaspersky’s software to steal confidential data from the home computer of a National Security Agency contractor.

CNBC reports that in December, Barclays, one of Britain’s big four banks, said it would stop distributing Kaspersky’s anti-virus software for free to customers “as a precaution,” after advice from the U.K.’s MI6 intelligence agency.

Earlier this month, the Dutch government said it would phase out the use of anti-virus software made by Kaspersky and urged companies that supplied critical services to follow suit.

Kaspersky has insisted that its products did not have “backdoors” that Russian spies could exploit. It promised to take measures to reassure customers about the safety of its products.

Kaspersky said that the new Swiss transparency lab will house customer data storage and processing for most of Kaspersky’s 400 million users as well as software assembly.

The company said additional centers would be opened in North America and Asia by 2020.