by Joseph Davis
On May 16, 2018, The Times of Israel reported (emphasis added): “Seeking to regain the trust of US and global customers, Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab said on Wednesday it was moving some of its key operations, including customer data storage and software assembly, from Moscow to Zurich, Switzerland. …
The Russian firm inaugurated its new offices and R&D center in Israel last year.
The company said that these latest steps “do not impact our business operations in Israel, and for the time being data storage and processing for users in Israel will remain unchanged.”
Kaspersky Lab’s move to Switzerland is interesting considering the following.
“ORT Switzerland is a fundraising organisation, particularly for World ORT programmes in Israel and the Former Soviet Union.
The Anières Institute, which it supported, was a residential college near Geneva at which hundreds of Jews and non-Jews from dozens of countries pursued two- to four-year courses in the decades following World War Two. Its graduates went on to excel in education, industry and in World ORT itself. The Anieres Elite Academy in Israel is named after the Swiss college and was made possible by the financial backing of an original Anieres graduate.
In the post-war years, ORT Switzerland also rehabilitated and trained thousands of Holocaust Survivors to prepare them for new lives abroad.” (World ORT)
World ORT was founded by the Gunzburgs, aka the “Rothschilds of Russia,” and “ORT Russia has already established concrete partnerships with Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, Kaspersky Lab, and IBS/Luxoft which draw in cutting edge resources and expertise to the organisation’s schools and programmes.” (World ORT 2009 & 2012)
Via ‘Matrimonial Networks of the French Jewish Upper Class in Paris 19th century – 1950.’ by Cyril Grange (Paper presented at the IUSSP Seminar “New History of Kinship” held in Paris, France, 1 – 2 October 2004): “During the second half of the 19th century, no matter which centrality is studied – degree, closeness or betweeness –the same group of families repeatedly tops the list. They are the true holders of the central positions in the network. There are six of them: Goldschmidt, Halphen, Fould, Kann, Rothschild and Gunzburg. On what points can we compare and distinguish between them? There are two families from the East of France (Halphen, Fould), three German (Goldschmidt, Kann, Rothschild) all of whom are originally from Frankfurt, and finally a Russian family (Gunzburg). In half of the cases, the families first moved to Paris in the early 19th century or even during the revolutionary and Napoleonic periods (Halphen, Fould, Rothschild). Five of the families made their initial wealth in finance, while Salomon Halphen made his fortune as a diamond merchant.”
On November 15, 2018, Calcalist reported: “Swiss company RUAG Holding AG and Israeli defense contractor Elbit Systems Ltd. announced today that they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to form a joint venture company in Switzerland. The company will cater to the needs and requirements of the Swiss Federal Department of Defence, and the Swiss Armed Forces.”
On September 20, 2018, CCN reported (emphasis added): “The Swiss Minister for Finance Ueli Maurer recently visited Israel along with State Secretary for International Financial Matters Joerg Gasser, citing their goal as gaining bank access to Israeli markets to allow Swiss banks to trade there.
Reuters reports that the two nations have now agreed to collaborate on financial technology, cryptocurrency, and blockchain regulation following their discussion with the Israeli government. …
[A] new Zug [Switzerland]-based startup named Alprockz is now working on a stablecoin based on the Swiss franc, highlighting to an extent that crypto-technology is progressing with or without the support of the banks.
While one could be forgiven for assuming that Swiss regulators are bringing more to the table in their information exchange, Israel is also a major tech hub. It’s the source of most Intel processor chips, and Bitcoin mining rig giant Bitmain has announced that it’s tripling its development center in western Israel to increase ASIC manufacturing. Last year the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu even suggested that the era of traditional banks and banking was coming to a close altogether and that cryptocurrency may be the turning point saying:
“Is the fate of banks that they will eventually disappear? Yes. The answer is Yes. Does it need to happen tomorrow? And do we need to do it through Bitcoin? That’s a question mark.”‘
“Zurich-based SIX Group Ltd., which owns and operates the Swiss stock exchange has signed a memorandum of understanding with Tel Aviv-based artificial intelligence company Cortica Inc. and Hong Kong-based Duotem Capital Ltd. to collaborate on AI-based collateral and cash optimization services, SIX announced Monday. As part of the deal, Cortica and Duotem Capital, a firm focused on connecting investors from Asia with Israeli companies, will help SIX identify and evaluate AI-based business opportunities and develop new offerings in the fields of trading pattern recognition, fraud prevention, and machine learning support. SIX will give Cortica access to its historical stock exchange database. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Founded in 2007, Cortica has raised $37.9 million to date from investors including Horizon Ventures, Samsung Ventures, and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, according to Pitchbook data.” (Calcalist 2018)
On May 1, 2018, Calcalist reported (emphasis added): “Marius Nacht has joined a $27 million investment round in Swiss fintech company Numbrs Personal Finance AG, the company announced Tuesday.
Marius Nacht (Talpiot and World ORT graduate) is the co-founder and Chairman of Nasdaq-traded Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Mr. Nacht also invests in life sciences startups through aMoon, a venture fund he co-founded in 2016. AMoon now aims to raise a $500 million or more for its second fund, and has already secured $200 million from Mr. Nacht himself and other investors, Calcalist reported in April.
Founded in 2012 and based in Zurich, Numbrs has developed a mobile banking app that aggregates bank accounts and credit card data into a personalized financial service. As of 2018, the Numbrs platform handled 7.2 billion Euros in assets, according to company data. Numbrs employs a 100-person team.”
On June 16, 2006 author and researcher Christopher Bollyn reported (emphasis added): “The NSA/Central Security Service defines itself as America’s cryptologic organization, which “coordinates, directs, and performs highly specialized activities to protect U.S. government information systems and produce foreign signals intelligence information.” The fact that the federal intelligence agency responsible for protecting the most critical computer systems and communications networks used by all branches of the U.S. government and military is using Israeli-made encryption software should come as no surprise. The RSA press release is just the icing on the cake; the keys to the most critical computer networks in the United States have long been held in Israeli hands.
I inquired with the NSA about its use of Israeli-made security software for classified communications projects and asked why such outsourcing was not seen as a national security threat. Why is “America’s cryptologic organization” using Israeli encryption codes? NSA spokesman Ken White said that the agency is “researching” the matter and would respond in the coming week.
Previously, I have reported that scores of “security software” companies spawned and funded by the Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence agency, have proliferated in the United States. The “security” software products of many of these usually short-lived Israeli-run companies have been integrated into the computer products which are provided to the U.S. government by leading suppliers such as Unisys.
Unisys integrated Israeli security software, provided by the Israel-based Check Point Software Technologies and Eurekify, into its own software, so that Israeli software, written by Mossad-linked companies, now “secures” the most sensitive computers in the U.S. government and commercial sector.
The Mossad-spawned computer security firms typically have an office in the U.S. while their research and development is done in Israel. The Mossad start-up firms usually have short lives before they are acquired for exaggerated sums of money by a larger company, enriching their Israeli owners in the process and integrating the Israeli directors and their Mossad-produced software into the parent company.”
Now let’s take a closer look at Kaspersky Lab. It’s “a 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.” (Wikipedia 2018)
Eugene “Kaspersky’s prior work for the Russian military and his education at a KGB-sponsored technical college has led to controversy about whether he uses his position to advance Russian government interests and intelligence efforts. According to Kaspersky, allegations of dubious connections with Russian agencies began after he got his first clients in America. He spends much of his working life trying to get governments and organizations to trust him and his software in spite of the allegations.
Wired said Kaspersky’s critics accuse him of using the company to spy on users for Russian intelligence. Russian telecommunications companies for example are required by federal law in Russia to cooperate with the government’s military and spy operations if asked. Kaspersky said his company has never been asked to tamper with its software for espionage and called the accusations “cold war paranoia.” According to Wired, Kaspersky staffers argue “not unconvincingly” that spying on users would hurt its business and its relationship with the Russian FSB, the KGB’s successor, is limited. According to Gartner, “There’s no evidence that they have any back doors in their software or any ties to the Russian mafia or state… but there is still a concern that you can’t operate in Russia without being controlled by the ruling party.” Computing mocked some of the more extreme accusations of espionage, but said it would be unlikely for a Russian business to grow to the size of Kaspersky Lab without relationships within the Russian government.“ (Wikipedia 2018)
On October 10, 2017, The New York Times reported (emphasis added): “It was a case of spies watching spies watching spies: Israeli intelligence officers looked on in real time as Russian government hackers searched computers around the world for the code names of American intelligence programs.
What gave the Russian hacking, detected more than two years ago, such global reach was its improvised search tool — antivirus software made by a Russian company, Kaspersky Lab, that is used by 400 million people worldwide, including by officials at some two dozen American government agencies.
The Israeli officials who had hacked into Kaspersky’s own network alerted the United States to the broad Russian intrusion, which has not been previously reported, leading to a decision just last month to order Kaspersky software removed from government computers.
The Russian operation, described by multiple people who have been briefed on the matter, is known to have stolen classified documents from a National Security Agency employee who had improperly stored them on his home computer, on which Kaspersky’s antivirus software was installed. What additional American secrets the Russian hackers may have gleaned from multiple agencies, by turning the Kaspersky software into a sort of Google search for sensitive information, is not yet publicly known.
The current and former government officials who described the episode spoke about it on condition of anonymity because of classification rules.
Like most security software, Kaspersky Lab’s products require access to everything stored on a computer in order to scour it for viruses or other dangers. Its popular antivirus software scans for signatures of malicious software, or malware, then removes or neuters it before sending a report back to Kaspersky. That procedure, routine for such software, provided a perfect tool for Russian intelligence to exploit to survey the contents of computers and retrieve whatever they found of interest.“
On March 20, 2018, CyberScoop reported (emphasis added): “Kaspersky research recently exposed an active, U.S.-led counterterrorism cyber-espionage operation. According to current and former U.S. intelligence officials, the operation was used to target ISIS and al-Qaeda members.
On March 9, Kaspersky publicly announced a malware campaign dubbed “Slingshot.” According to the company’s researchers, the campaign compromised thousands of devices through breached routers in various African and Middle Eastern countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Kenya, Sudan, Somalia, Turkey and Yemen. …
Slingshot helped the military and intelligence community collect information about terrorists by infecting computers they commonly used, sources told CyberScoop. Often times, these targeted computers would be located within internet cafés in developing countries. ISIS and al-Qaeda targets would use internet cafés to send and receive messages, the sources said.
These officials, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss a classified program, fear the exposure may cause the U.S. to lose access to a valuable, long-running surveillance program and put soldiers’ lives at risk. …
Broadly speaking, Kaspersky’s ability to identify even the most advanced malware variants is well-documented; especially within the highly competitive cybersecurity community. Most of these cases are handled by Kaspersky’s heralded Global Research & Analysis Team (GReAT) team. The Russian company is known for employing some of the best reverse malware engineers and analysts in the entire industry.
It also has a vast business presence in the Middle East. Slingshot was discovered through the company’s work in that region. [Probably via Israel.] …
A senior U.S. intelligence official claimed that it would be hard to believe that Kaspersky was totally unaware of what it was handling.
“It’s clear by the way they wrote about this that they knew what it was being used for,” said the senior official. “GReAT is extremely adept at understanding the information needs of different actors out there on the internet. They take into considering the geopolitical circumstances, they’ve shown that time and time again. It would be a stretch for me to believe they didn’t know what they’re dealing with here.”’
On June 14, 2017, The Times of Israel reported (emphasis added): “Cyberattacks are going to get worse, and such vital civilian infrastructures as electricity, telecommunications and transportation will be a new battleground for cybercrime as nations fail to cooperate effectively to block the threat, Russian cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky warned.
“Before we fix cyberspace, making it inherently safe and immune to attacks, the security situation is likely to get worse with all the myriads of vulnerable devices and systems being developed and produced every day,” the 51-year old CEO of Kaspersky Lab said in an email interview ahead of the opening of his firm’s new offices and R&D center in Jerusalem on Wednesday. “The worst-case scenario is a successful attack on critical infrastructure. I’m afraid the risk of an attack like that remains high.”
Last month, Dan Coats, the US director of national intelligence, told a US Senate Select Committee that he and his colleagues wouldn’t be comfortable with Kaspersky Lab’s software on their computers, the Boston Globe reported. “We are tracking Kaspersky and their software,” Defense Intelligence Agency director Vincent Stewart told the committee, Reuters reported.
“One thing I hope we don’t see is a real cyberwar between advanced nations,” [Kaspersky] added.
The launching of a Future Tech Lab in Jerusalem is a demonstration that the so-called startup nation “is a strategically important country for us. It’s not just a new office for us; it’s about R&D, the heart of the company,” he said. …
Its employees will work jointly with local university researchers and with colleagues in other Kaspersky Lab hubs. The center will also serve as an accelerator for startups that will have access to data gathered by Kaspersky, the company said at the Jerusalem launch on Wednesday.
On April 18, 2016, The Times of Israel reported (emphasis added): “Things are bad in the cyber-security world, and they are getting worse, according to Eugene Kaspersky… “Each year, the hackers get more bold and their attacks become more dangerous, and many companies, institutions, governments, hospitals and many more are vulnerable. What is needed is an army that will have the weapons to battle cyber-criminals and cyber-terrorists – and we intend to build that army in Jerusalem.”
That “army” will be part of a new Expert Center Kaspersky plans to open in Jerusalem. The decision to open the center in the city came as part of a cyber-security conference held in the city this week, after consultations with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and other officials, Kaspersky said, although no date has been yet announced for the established of the center.
The need for such an institution is great, said Kaspersky, whose researchers helped discover major cyber-attacks like Stuxnet and Flame. …
As a center of cyber-security technology, Israel is the perfect place for a project like this, said Kaspersky.
“We’re all used to the idea of products as a way to solve cyber-security problems – just press a button and fix things. It doesn’t work that way. You need products, strategies, engineering knowledge, and technical knowledge to protect systems, and that only comes with training – the kind of training we hope to give to personnel who work with our new Jerusalem organization.”
What is the end goal?