Eugene Kaspersky, the CEO of the Russian cybersecurity software firm that bears his name, had a big American dream. From a report: He wanted his company to go beyond selling anti-virus software to consumers and small businesses and become a major vendor to the U.S. government — one of the world’s biggest buyers of cybersecurity tools. Kaspersky set up a U.S. subsidiary, KGSS, in Arlington, Virginia that would be focused on winning that business. He sponsored flashy conferences with high-profile speakers –including Michael Flynn, who was briefly President Donald Trump’s national security adviser — sought to join U.S. trade groups and even underwrote programming on National Public Radio. All of this was done to burnish Kaspersky’s image and help it become an accepted vendor for the U.S. government despite its Russian roots, according to people familiar with the strategy. But Eugene Kaspersky was never able to overcome lingering suspicions among U.S. intelligence officials that he and his company were, or could become, pawns of Russia’s spy agencies. Kaspersky “has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts,” the company said. Kaspersky’s American ambitions were further eroded by the sharp deterioration in U.S.-Russia relations following Russia’s invasion of Crimea in 2014, and later when U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had hacked the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
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