Kaspersky or not Kaspersky—whom to believe in the Trump era?
- November 13, 2017
- Posted by: Bishop Group
- Category: Blog
The problem with our so-called post-truth environment is that we have to make decisions based on conflicting information. Therefore, we are told, we should consider the sources of conflicting information. But it’s not always a clear-cut solution. Take the case of everyday computer security. The anti-virus software Kaspersky Lab has been offered free since 2008 to 2 million Barclays Bank customers. Presumably, a lot of them use it. After all, if Barclays recommends it, why not have it?
However, the Financial Times reported on 13 November that “a senior Whitehall official” said that GCHQ—the British government’s communications security organisation—suspects that Kaspersky may be exploited by Russian intelligence. In other words, the Russians may have access to the computers of 2 million Barclays customers.
Kaspersky has more than 400 million customers worldwide. It denies the allegations and said that it does not have “inappropriate ties with any government.” Yet Kaspersky is based in Russia and its founder, Eugene Kaspersky, is a former KGB intelligence officer.
To stay with Kaspersky or avoid Kaspersky, that is the question. Who to believe—an anonymous “official” British source or a Russian businessman? There are no available facts (“alternative” or otherwise) to make the decision easy.
So it comes down to a matter of belief, which is in many ways analogous to how one feels (never mind thinks) about the latest dispute between the President of the United States and his country’s former intelligence chiefs.
The U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report in January concluding that Putin orchestrated a campaign to help Trump win the election. According to press reports in The Guardian (among others), on 12 November Trump, travelling to Vietnam, told reporters that the people responsible for the National Intelligence report—the heads of the various US intelligence agencies—were “political hacks.”
Talking about the alleged Russian interference in the election, Trump said: “Every time he [Putin] sees me, he says: ‘I didn’t do that.’ And I believe—I really believe that when he tells me that, he means it.”
According to The New York Times, Senator John McCain, himself a Vietnam veteran, responded: “There’s nothing ‘America First’ about taking the word of a KGB colonel [Putin] over that of the American intelligence community.”
According to the Financial Times, Trump later said in a press conference that he believes “very much” in the US intelligence agencies which are “currently led by fine people.”
What are we to believe? A New York Times columnist claims that “Trump is very much a Russian project.” What about Kaspersky?