The Treasury Department on Thursday condemned six Russian technology companies to sanctions for having supported the Kremlin intelligence agencies engaged in “dangerous and disruptive cyber attacks”.
But only one of them stands out for its international footprint and its partnerships with IT heavyweights such as Microsoft and IBM.
This company, Positive Technologies, claims more than 2,000 customers in 30 countries, including the major European banks Societe Generale and ING, as well as Samsung, SK Telecom of South Korea and BT, the British telecommunications giant.
Its clients also include the FSB, a successor to the KGB that “cultivates and cooperates with criminal hackers” who carry out ransomware and phishing attacks, the Treasury Department said. The United States has said large conventions hosted by Positive Technologies are “used as recruiting events” by the FSB and GRU, the Russian military intelligence agency.
GRU agents are Russian intelligence crooks. The agency is accused of leading the hack and leak operation that interfered in the 2016 US presidential election in favor of Donald Trump. Its operatives also carried out the most damaging cyberattack on record, the runaway NotPetya virus in 2017 that caused more than $ 10 billion in damage worldwide, with its victims including shipping giant Maersk and pharmaceutical company Merck.
Software industry-backed Moscow Internet Research Institute CEO Karen Kazaryan said he did not know most of the Russian IT companies sanctioned on Thursday. But Positive Tech is well known in the industry for its annual Hack Days, which is scheduled for May 20-21 at a Moscow hotel.
Former CIA analyst Michael van Landingham applauded the naming and sanctioning of Russian IT companies known to have aided and abetted malicious government activity.
“Naming specific companies can create incentives for educated and skilled Russians who might be able to get jobs elsewhere where they don’t support Russian state hacking,” he said.
Positive Tech’s specialty is identifying vulnerabilities in popular software such as Microsoft’s Windows operating system. Intelligence agencies around the world regularly rely on companies like this not to publicly disclose potential vulnerabilities when they find them, but to share them discreetly for hacking into their opponents’ networks.
The United States has not accused Positive Technologies of such behavior, and the Treasury Department has refused to answer questions about the company’s activities beyond a press release.
Microsoft did not give details of the company’s business relationship with Positive Tech, but said it would comply with the sanctions. Spokesmen also said the company is removing Positive Tech from a list of more than 80 security software vendors that it gives quick access to vulnerability information so they can make sure their customers get it quickly. fixes. IBM also lists Positive Technologies as a security partner, offering its customers one of its scanning tools.
IBM did not respond to requests for comment Thursday. US tech companies HP and VMware, which Positive Technologies lists as technology partners, don’t have it either.
On its website, Positive Technologies lists the Russian Defense Ministry as one of its first major clients in 2004, when he was two years old with just 11 employees. It had more than 800 employees in 2018.
Russia’s largest business database lists the CEO and founder of the company as Yury Maximov, about whom little is known except that he graduated from the State University of Moscow. The company did not respond to questions sent to press contacts on its website.
The Positive Tech website boasts of a number of achievements, such as cybersecurity for the 2018 FIFA World Cup hosted by Russia and the release of data the same year on 30 high-risk vulnerabilities. It said it opened its first international office in London in 2010 and its first US office in 2012.
The company has occasionally used Framingham, Massachusetts as its US location in press releases, although this is not recorded in city or state records as a company with that name. An office building with an address linked to the company is a coworking space which can be rented on flexible terms for “one or more persons”.
Market research firm IDC ranked Positive Technologies as one of the fastest growing companies in security and vulnerability management in 2012, in part because it was so small in the world. era, growing nearly 82% year-over-year to reach $ 30 million in worldwide revenue. Almost all of this income came from the vulnerability assessment. But in 2015, its global revenues fell 37.6% to $ 26.5 million, according to IDC, which eventually stopped following the company.
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