Russian cyber-security Kaspersky has come under fire, after former employees accused the company of creating fake malware and viruses to trick competitors, sending them on needless bug-squashing quests.
Speaking to Reuters, the two former employees described Kaspersky's system of altering important software files shared by most PCs so as to make the harmless look potentially dangerous. They would then be uploaded to Google's VirusTotal malware aggregator, a resource that anti-virus companies use to ensure their databases are up to date. The modified Kaspersky files would look so similar to original files, rivals would find false positives, and use unnecessary resources to combat or debunk the perceived threats, needlessly disabling the files on users' computers and tarnishing rivals' reputations and perceived bug-spotting accuracy.
The employees claim that Kaspersky carried out such behaviour for more than a decade, even going as far as to reverse-engineer rival products in order to pinpoint exactly how they spotted threats.
Kaspersky denies the claims.
“Our company has never conducted any secret campaign to trick competitors into generating false positives to damage their market standing," Kaspersky said in a statement to Reuters. "Such actions are unethical, dishonest and their legality is at least questionable."
Kaspersky is a gigantic company when it comes to the security market, with around 400 million users and 270,000 corporate clients. [Reuters]