Kaspersky Lab Ditches ‘Toxic Media Environment,’ Focuses On Transparency

Kaspersky Trusted Advisors Summit Scottsdale

(Pictured above: (left to right) Jason Stein, Kaspersky VP of channel; Alejandro Arango, global director of corporate communications; and Tara Hairston, head of government relations, North America, at the Kaspersky Lab Trusted Advisor Partner Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona, May 10, 2018.)

KASPERSKY LAB TRUSTED ADVISOR PARTNER CONFERENCE — Kaspersky Lab on Thursday unveiled its latest cybersecurity technologies, and gave an update on its efforts toward transparency and fighting negative media coverage in light of last fall’s allegations that led to a federal ban on using the Moscow-based company’s products within the U.S. government.

Kaspersky Lab’s Trusted Advisor Partner Conference includes about 80 individuals and 60 partners. The company’s global partner program for MSPs, which launched in April 2017, has reached 1,000 registered partners, including more than 400 partners in North America.

Just last month,Twitter announced it will no longer run ads from Kaspersky, claiming the company’s alleged dealings with the Russian government violate its ad policies. Kaspersky still can post tweets on the site. The company’s antivirus has been removed from all federal government computer systems, while its software remains on some contractor systems.

Alejandro Arango, Kaspersky’s global director of corporate communications, told attendees that last November was a “very toxic media environment for us,” but the first quarter showed “dramatic” improvement. The company has launched a new transparency website, with information about the company and how it works, data processing, principals for combating cybercrime and how it works with law enforcement, and people who support the company, he said.

“In the first quarter, about 90 percent of (media) coverage in the United States was either positive or neutral,” he said. “We continue to fight every single day. Yes, there’s still a lot of stuff going on with the company, but we’re working really hard to get good results from media coverage. Next week we will have a big announcement on our global transparency initiative.”

When asking for feedback, one partner said he would like to see Kaspersky direct its message more toward customers, while another said allowing a white label that didn’t include the Kaspersky name would eliminate any customer concerns.

Calance's Jeff LekoJeff Leko is technical supervisor for service desk delivery at Calance, an IT service management company. It deploys Kaspersky at Isuzu North America.

“Right now, we only do the endpoint protection and we’re trying to start to widen that to some of the other offerings,” he said. “We have customer clients who are in manufacturing, who are in automotive manufacturing … and we’re trying to move them toward some of the other threat detection and the behavioral authentication to see how somebody types in their password and use that to determine if it’s the user or somebody else.”

Negative press about Kaspersky didn’t dampen Calance’s trust in the company, Leko said.

“At one of our client’s meetings – and they had all of their sales guys out there – one person stood up and said, ‘Hey, are we still going to use Kaspersky?'” he said. “And their director of IT stood up and said, ‘Yes we are, it’s great for us, we’ve got no complaints. And there’s been zero actual evidence presented. Nobody’s ever shown a single line of code.'”

Tara Hairston, Kaspersky’s head of government relations for North America, said her company plans to establish three transparency centers by 2020 — in North America, Asia and Europe. The centers will provide access to …

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