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Jan 26, 2017 09:25 AM EST

Arrested Kaspersky Security Reseacher Might Be Working With Foreign Entities, Sources Say


A leading security researcher from the cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky Lab, has been arrested by Russian law enforcement as part of a probe into possible treason. Russia's Kommersant newspaper has confirmed reports on Wednesday.

Possible Treason

According to Forbes, Kaspersky Lab, the Russian-based software security giant, has confirmed to the Associated Press that its incident response chief Ruslan Stoyanov was arrested in December of last year.

Forbes also added that the security researcher was arrested along with a senior Russian FSB intelligence officer, Sergei Mikhailov, who is said to face treason charges for supporting possible espionage activities. Sergei Mikhailov was the deputy head of the information security department of the FSB, the Russia's equivalent of the America's National Security Agency (NSA).

Russia's news agency Kommersant cited sources who claimed the investigation was examining the receipt of money that Stoyanov allegedly received from foreign entities as well as his links to Sergei Mikhailov.

According to Kommersant, Sergei Stoyanov has worked with the Moscow Cyber Crime Unit at the Russian Interior Ministry from 2000 to 2006. Then in 2012, he moved into the cybersecurity giant Kaspersky, according to his LinkedIn profile listing.

The Russian news agency also reported that the probe is looking into possible violations of Article 275 of the Russian Criminal Code, which allows the Russian government to prosecute any individual suspected of aiding a foreign state or organization in the form of espionage activities. Violations of this Criminal Code will carry prison sentences of 12 to 20 years.

Stoyanov Might Be Working With Foreign Entities

Words of the Stoyanov's arrest has quickly encircled the web, igniting a ton of speculation and concern about a possible chilling effect the Russian action might have in the cybersecurity world.

Some are speculating that Stoyanov could be part of secret espionage activities or might be working with the foreign state.

A recent blog post from Lawfare Blog suggests that Stoyanov might be a source for US intelligence community, who ultimately concluded a Russian-sponsored hacking attempt to interfere with the recent US presidential election.

However, this speculation is likely off base because it does not fit with Stoyanov's current work at Kaspersky Lab. Reports said Stoyanov's research never involved advanced persistent threats, the technical term used for advanced hacking techniques that are used by State-sponsored spies.

Alleged sources also said that Stoyanov was seen as "some kind of broker" between an unnamed foreign company and Sergei Mikhailov. The treason charges were reportedly the results of working with those foreign entities.

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