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“As a private company, Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage efforts,” Eugene Kaspersky said in May during an “Ask Me Anything” session on the Web site Reddit.Indeed, many cyber experts, including those with federal government backgrounds, have praised the quality of Kaspersky software.In Russia’s closed society, the FSB retains the right to access any company’s data transmissions, and no firm is allowed to use encryption to block the intelligence agency’s intrusions, the former Western spy said.Kenneth Geers, a former NATO cyber expert who is a fellow at the Washington-based Atlantic Council, also reviewed the company’s FSB certificate.

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Unlike the stamped approvals the FSB routinely issues to companies seeking to operate in Russia, Kaspersky’s include an unusual feature: a military intelligence unit number matching that of an FSB program.

After this story was initially published, the company said it and other high-tech companies that seek to sell products to the Russian government receive their certifications from the Center for Information Protection and Special Communications, known by the FSB military unit number on Kaspersky's certificates.

A former Western intelligence official who examined the documents for Mc Clatchy described as “very unusual” the assignment of a military intelligence number on Kaspersky’s certificates.

Geers said he could not say with certainty the degree to which the documents show a formal connection between Kaspersky and the FSB.

But “the suggestion is that this is a government op (operation), a unit with a direct government affiliation,” he said.