Feeds

Does F-Secure's antivirus turn a blind eye to spook spyware? CEO hits back

Malware is malware, says top Finn

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

Antivirus maker F-Secure has responded to privacy campaigners' concerns over the handling of spook-grade surveillance malware – by insisting its security software slays government spyware wherever it can.

In an open letter to the Bits of Freedom team, F-Secure president and chief exec Christian Fredrikson said his firm stands by its 2001 vow to not discriminate in favor of intelligence agencies when blocking potentially malicious code.

Earlier this month, the campaigners wrote [PDF] to F-Secure, which is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, demanding to know whether the biz had "ever been approached ... by a government requesting that the presence of specific software is not detected, or if detected, not notified to the user of your software."

Fredrikson shot back: "If we would be approached by a government asking us not to detect a specific piece of malware, we would not comply with their request.

"To us, the source of the malware does not come into play when deciding whether to detect malware."

The privacy warriors' letter to F-Secure was part of a public call to antivirus vendors to disclose their policies.

The campaign, backed by top computer security expert Bruce Schneier, asked companies to come clean on whether they would turn a blind eye to a particular strain of spyware should a government ask.

Fredrikson said his company has encountered government-backed malware samples, citing the 2011 saga of R2D2 – a secretive package that was allegedly deployed by German police to listen in on VoIP calls.

The chief exec said his firm's software, once it detects malware, grants no special favors to the g-men's software. Fredrikson denied that F-Secure has ever been asked by government agencies to allow spyware through its security checks.

"If it's malware, we will protect our customers from it. Our decision-making boils down to a simple question: would our customers run this program on their system or not," the F-Secure boss continued.

"Obviously the answer for governmental trojans would be a 'no'." ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Patch NOW! Microsoft slings emergency bug fix at Windows admins
Vulnerability promotes lusers to domain overlords ... oops
You really need to do some tech support for Aunty Agnes
Free anti-virus software, expires, stops updating and p0wns the world
Mozilla, EFF, Cisco back free-as-in-FREE-BEER SSL cert authority
Let’s Encrypt to give HTTPS-everywhere a boost in 2015
Meet OneRNG: a fully-open entropy generator for a paranoid age
Kiwis to seek random investors for crowd-funded randomiser
USB coding anarchy: Consider all sticks licked
Thumb drive design ruled by almighty buck
Attack reveals 81 percent of Tor users but admins call for calm
Cisco Netflow a handy tool for cheapskate attackers
prev story

Whitepapers

Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence
Download Choosing a Cloud Hosting Provider with Confidence to learn more about cloud computing - the new opportunities and new security challenges.
New hybrid storage solutions
Tackling data challenges through emerging hybrid storage solutions that enable optimum database performance whilst managing costs and increasingly large data stores.