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Eugene Kaspersky and the KGB man that never was

AV boss has bone to pick with The Guardian

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The Guardian has apologised to Eugene Kaspersky after mistakingly naming the anti-virus guru as a former KGB officer.

Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and chief exec of the internet security company Kaspersky Lab, was described as a "KGB man" and a lieutenant in the KGB in an otherwise accurate article (The ex-KGB man stalking the cybercriminals since renamed The Russian defence against global cybercrime).

In reality, Kaspersky studied cryptography at a high school which was co-sponsored by the Russian department of defence and the KGB. He then went on to work for the department of defence as a cryptologist and later as an anti-virus researcher. During this time Kaspersky developed an interest in anti-virus research.

From 1991 to 1997 Eugene worked at the KAMI Information Technologies Center where he and his colleagues developed the AVP antivirus project. He founded Kaspersky Lab with former wife Natalia, who remains the chairman of the Russian anti-virus firm, in 1997.

Anti-virus firms often go to considerable lengths to imply they are involved in a hi-tech cloak-and-dagger fight against malware authors, so The Guardian can perhaps be forgiven its error (Don't be ridiculous - Ed). The phenomenon most clearly manifests itself in the facilities chosen by anti-virus firms to host security centres.

Symantec's European centre of operations, for example, is housed in a former nuclear shelter in rural Hampshire. Kaspersky's former Moscow HQ is in a building where scientists used to design nuclear weapons guidance systems. ®

Bootnote

Eugene Kaspersky is a colourful figure in the world of computer security, which has been taken over by marketing types in recent years. Not the sort of fella you want to end up facing across a poker table perhaps, at least if you're betting with money you don't want to lose. The Russian favours whisky over the local preference for vodka.

His motivation techniques are somewhat unusual. He owns a bone taken from a walrus penis which he used to jokingly wave around to inspire the troops carrying out the grunt work of anti-virus analysis during our visit to the firm's Moscow HQ in December 2003.

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