Kaspersky Lab (/kæˈspɜːrski/; Russian: Лаборатория Касперского, tr. Laboratoriya Kasperskogo) is a Russian multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow, Russia and operated by a holding company in the United Kingdom. It was founded in 1997 by Eugene Kaspersky, Natalya Kaspersky, and Alexey De-Monderik; Eugene Kaspersky is currently the CEO. Kaspersky Lab develops and sells antivirus, internet security, password management, endpoint security, and other cybersecurity products and services.
Kaspersky expanded abroad from 2005 to 2010 and grew to $704 million in annual revenues by 2020, up 8% from 2016, though annual revenues were down 8% in North America due to U.S. government security concerns. As of 2016, the software has about 400 million users and has the largest market share of cybersecurity software vendors in Europe. Kaspersky Lab ranks fourth in the global ranking of antivirus vendors by revenue.
It was the first Russian company to be included in the rating of the world’s leading software companies, called the Software Top 100 (79th on the list, as of 6/29/2012). Kaspersky Lab is ranked 4th in the Endpoint Security segment according to IDC data for 2010. According to Gartner, Kaspersky Lab is currently the third-largest vendor of consumer IT security software worldwide and the fifth largest vendor of Enterprise Endpoint Protection. In 2012 Kaspersky Lab was named a “Leader” in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms.
The Kaspersky Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) has led the discovery of sophisticated espionage platforms conducted by nations, such as Equation Group and the Stuxnet worm. Various covert government-sponsored cyber-espionage efforts were uncovered through their research. Kaspersky also publishes the annual Global IT Security Risks Survey. As of 2014, Kaspersky’s research hubs analyze more than 350,000 malware samples per day.
Kaspersky has faced controversy over allegations that it has engaged with the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB)—ties which the company has actively denied. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security banned Kaspersky products from all government departments on 13 September 2017. In October 2017, subsequent reports alleged that hackers working for the Russian government stole confidential data from the home computer of an
American National Security Agency contractor via Kaspersky antivirus software. Kaspersky denied the allegations, reporting that the software had detected Equation Group malware samples which are uploaded to its servers for analysis in its normal course of operation. The company has since announced commitments to increased accountability, such as soliciting independent reviews and verification of its software’s source code, and announcing that it would migrate some of its core infrastructures for foreign customers from Russia to Switzerland.
The first version of Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus software was developed by Eugene Kaspersky in 1989 in response to the Cascade Virus. Early versions had just 40 virus definitions and were mostly distributed to friends and family members. Eugene continued developing the software at KAMI, resulting in the AntiViral Toolkit Pro (AVP) product released in 1992. It was popularized in 1994 after a competitive analysis by Hamburg University gave Eugene’s software first place.
In 1997, Eugene Kaspersky, his wife Natalya Kaspersky, and Alexey De-Monderik left KAMI to form Kaspersky Lab, and to continue developing the antivirus product, then called AVP. The product was renamed Kaspersky Anti-Virus after an American company registered the AVP trademark in the US.
In 1998, a Taiwanese student released a virus called CIH. During the first three weeks of the outbreak, Kaspersky Lab’s AVP was the only software at the time able to remove it. This increased demand and led to deals with antivirus companies in Japan, Finland, and Germany to integrate AVP into their software.
According to WIRED, Kaspersky’s software was “advanced for the time”. For example, it was the first software to monitor viruses in an isolated quarantine. The company’s revenue grew 280 percent from 1998 to 2000, with about 60 percent of its revenue coming from foreign sales.
Natalya worked to broker deals abroad and localize the software. It opened offices in the UK, Poland, Holland, and China. It later expanded to Germany, France, the US, and Japan. By 2000, the company had 65 employees and sales in more than 40 countries. Kaspersky opened new offices in South East Asia and the Middle East in 2008 and in South Africa in 2009. It also expanded in India, the Middle East, and Africa in 2010. In 2009, retail sales of Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus products reached almost 4.5 million copies per year.
In 2011, General Atlantic bought a 20 percent share of Kaspersky Lab for $200 million, with the expectation of helping the company go public. A few months later, the decision was made to keep the firm private and Kaspersky re-purchased the shares from General Atlantic. This was followed by numerous executive departures in 2011 and 2014 regarding disputes over going public and over Eugene’s management style.
On January 1, 2012, Kaspersky Lab officially left the Business Software Alliance (BSA) over SOPA. The BSA had supported the controversial anti-piracy bill, but Kaspersky Lab did not support it stating, “we believe that such measures will be used contrary to the modern advances in technology and the needs of consumers,” and to show their disapproval, announced their intent to leave on December 5, 2011.
By 2013, the company had an unaudited $667 million in annual revenues. In 2014, Kaspersky Lab signed a distribution deal with Ingram Micro, which significantly expanded its reseller program.
In August 2015, two former Kaspersky employees alleged that the company introduced modified files into the VirusTotal antivirus database to trick software from Kaspersky competitors into triggering false positives in virus and malware scans. A possible motive is that Eugene allegedly was furious at competitors perceived to be “unfairly” free-riding on Kaspersky’s malware discoveries via the open-source VirusTotal database. The company denied the allegations. On his personal blog, Eugene Kaspersky compared the accusations to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories. Reuters followed up by publishing leaked emails allegedly from Kaspersky alluding to “falsies” and “rubbing out” foreign competitors; Kaspersky Lab stated the emails “may not be legitimate and were obtained from anonymous sources that have a hidden agenda”.
In 2016, Kaspersky executive Ruslan Stoyanov was arrested by Russian authorities on charges predating his work at Kaspersky. In 2019, he was convicted of treason.
Kaspersky Lab develops and markets antivirus, internet security, password management, endpoint security, and other cybersecurity products and services. It is the fourth or fifth largest endpoint security vendor and the third-largest consumer IT security software company. It is the sixth-largest overall IT security company. Its revenues are about 15 percent from Russian companies domestically, one-third from European organizations, and one-fourth from U.S. organizations. The software has about 400 million users in all.
Kaspersky‘s consumer software includes Antivirus, Internet Security, and Total Security products. The Antivirus software includes malware protection, monitors the PC for suspicious program behavior, and warns users about potentially dangerous websites. The Internet Security software adds privacy features, parental controls, anti-phishing tools. Total Security adds parental controls, adult website filters, diagnostic tools, a Password Manager application, and other features. Kaspersky’s software is available for Macs, PCs, Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and Symbian.
For businesses, the company markets the Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business suite. It includes a centralized user interface and management application called the Kaspersky Security Center. The cybersecurity software itself is called the Kaspersky Security Network. The Kaspersky Administration KitSecurity Center manages configuration, installation, and remote use. The business suite also has quarantine, reporting, and other features. Its software product for businesses with 25 staff or less is called Kaspersky Small Office Security (KSOS). Within the suite are products specifically for virtualization security, mobile security, and fraud protection among others. Kaspersky also develops a free tool that helps businesses gain access to Windows devices that are infected by ransomware.