Kaspersky Lab To Open Swiss Data Centre, Amid Dutch Ban

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

Dutch government announces it will stop using Kaspersky Lab products, over national security concerns

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab has confirmed plans to build a data centre in Switzerland in an effort to allay Western national security concerns about its anti-virus software.

The idea had first been mooted in March this year, and the Swiss facility The facility is to be one of a series of ‘transparency centres’ located around the world, and will be used to collect and analyse files identified as suspicious from the computers of tens of millions of Kaspersky customers based in the United States and European Union.

Meanwhile the Russian firm seems to be failing to dispel Western concerns about its products, after the Dutch government joined the US, UK, and Lithuania when it announced on Monday that it will phase out Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software.

Swiss facility

Kaspersky had been hoping that its ‘transparency centres’ will ease Western concerns over allegations its software is used by Russian intelligence for spying purposes.

Kaspersky Lab was quoted as saying by Reuters that part of the new facility would be based in Zurich, and the company had chosen Switzerland for its “policy of neutrality” and strong data protection laws.

“We’re addressing the question of trust by moving our data storage and processing facilities, as well as software assembly, to Switzerland,” Kaspersky Lab CEO and founder, Eugene Kaspersky, said in written comments to Reuters.

“The data of our customers from the US, Europe, Japan, Korea, Singapore and Australia will henceforth be stored and processed in Switzerland. More countries will follow.”

Eugene Kaspersky said he had received support from regional Swiss officials and the Swiss embassy in Moscow.

It is reported that the Swiss data centre will collect and analyse files identified as suspicious on the computers of Kaspersky customers in the United States, European Union and Asia.

Kaspersky is hoping this will allay concerns about laws that enable Russian security services to monitor data transmissions inside Russia and force companies to assist law enforcement agencies, according to the internal documents seen by Reuters.

Kaspersky Lab also plans to open similar centres in North America and Asia by 2020.

National security

But if the Russian firm hoped that the Swiss facility would help, the Dutch government handed it a blunt setback this week.

Dutch justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus told MPs in a letter that the cabinet had decided to stop using anti-virus software produced by Kaspersky Lab, in order to guarantee national security.

The letter also advised Dutch companies which work with the defence ministry and other vital services to stop using the software.

Kaspersky Lab has spent the best part of a year or more denying it has any links to Russian intelligence services, but a number of Western governments have banned its use within governmental departments.

The Russian firm has filed a legal challenge against an order issued by the US Department for Homeland Security, banning its products from use by government agencies.

In the UK, GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned government departments not to use antivirus software with links to Russia – such as those of Kaspersky Lab – for systems related to national security.

Kaspersky has repeatedly denied its tools could be used to pass information to the Russian authorities.

Last October it even offered the source code of current and future versions of its products for independent review, but US officials have said such a step would not suffice to overturn their qualms.

Twitter in April also banned Kaspersky from being able to advertise on the social network, saying the company violated its Twitter ads rules.

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