Citywire for Financial Professionals
Stay connected:

View the article online at

Russian spy fears over Barclays' free anti-virus software

British intelligence agencies are worried Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software is being used by the Russian government to spy.

Russian spy fears over Barclays' free anti-virus software

Free anti-virus software given out by Barclays could be being used by the Russian government to spy on customers, security chiefs fear.

Britain’s security service GCHQ has concerns about the UK distribution of anti-virus software from Kaspersky Lab, a Russian computer security company led by a former Soviet intelligence expert, according to the Financial Times.  

A Whitehall official told the newspaper it suspected Kaspersky might have been exploited by KGB successor organisation the FSB, which wants to spy on foreign individuals, including government and military employees.

Barclays is believed to have provided 2 million online banking customers with the Kaspersky software for free as a way to boost their at-home security and prevent their bank accounts being hacked. However, a Barclays’ spokesman disputed the figure, stating it had provided the software to around 290,000 customers over the past decade.

There is no evidence that any of Barclays customers have had their private information accessed and the spokesman for the bank said: ‘We have never received any advice or guidance from GCHQ or the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in relation to Kaspersky.’

It is believed that Barclays is looking to cut ties with Kaspersky.

The NCSC, a GCHQ arm that deals with the private sector, told the newspaper that it ‘has never advised Barclays against the use of Kaspersky products’.

‘The NCSC is not a regulator and does not mandate or ban any products. Our certification schemes do not currently cover anti-virus or anti-malware services,’ it said.

There have been concerns about Kaspersky in the US where the US Department of Homeland Security banned the use of the software provider from all its government agencies.

Kaspersky Lab is based in Moscow and was founded by Eugene Kaspersky, a former KGB-trained intelligence expert. It has been accused of being used by Russian agencies to hack sensitive information and both US and Israeli intelligence services are believed to have gathered evidence of this.

The company released a statement to the FT that said it did not have ‘any inappropriate ties with any government’.

‘No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation,’ said the organisation.

‘The accusation of any inappropriate ties with the Russian government are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including the claims about Russian regulation and policies impacting the company.’

10 comments so far. Why not have your say?


Nov 13, 2017 at 17:12

There may well be nothing wrong with Kaspersky. WikiLeaks has published a document that accuses the CIA of forging a Kaspersky certificate so that they could go around stealing things and blaming the Russians for it.

report this


Nov 13, 2017 at 17:18

I can see no reason to use any security system that has any link with Russia, China, North Korea or any other country that might have questionable credentials.

report this


Nov 13, 2017 at 17:41

I have Kaspersky installed (not through Barclays), I have never had my Aston Martin chased and shot at, nor met a very big man with very big teeth, fought against a man with a cat or a bowler hat, met gorgeous women... etc etc

Has someone got it in for Barclays? They usually seem to manage to shoot themselves in the foot without any outside help.

(I've got a Vauxhall Zafira really)

report this


Nov 13, 2017 at 17:51

@Prickle, the US should definitely be on that list.

report this

Andrew Stevenson

Nov 13, 2017 at 20:24

I've got Barclay's Kaspersky installed. Had a problem with a computer using Windows 10 (unable to get green security border whilst on a financial site) and the guys at Kaspersky couldn't have been more helpful. As for GCHQ, I'm pretty sure the Russians have moles in that organisation and have always been able to run rings round them.

report this


Nov 13, 2017 at 21:19

I used to use Barclays Kaspersky but got rid of it some years ago when I learnt it was Russian. I'd recommend anyone else to do the same.

report this


Nov 14, 2017 at 00:41

I had much rather be spied on by the Russians than MI6 and CIA.

report this

William Phillips

Nov 14, 2017 at 11:06

In other news, it was a rotten summer where I live, because the Russian Met Office fixed it for the sun not to shine.

And after Vladimir Putin decided he does not like pasta, he ordered his men to ensure that Italy will not be coming to Russia for the World Cup.

Meanwhile, the incredibly cunning plan to deceive western computer users by distributing Russian software with a Russian name, though a company headed by a known ex-KGB man, was rumbled by our razor-sharp security agencies. Curses!

A spokesman for the State Department said: 'As we all know, Russia is at death's door economically, full of impotent drunks and with the population shrinking and starving.

"The ruse of abandoning communism, reviving religion and pacifying Syria has failed to convince us smart guys that it's no longer a threat- hell, we'd be out of a job if it wasn't. So those primitive Russkies have moved to Plan B: controlling politics in America and Britain while developing the world's smartest weaponry, under a ruler who is far more popular than any of ours.

"It just tells you how desperate they've become. But Kaspersky will never prevail against the leader of the free world- Mr Marc Zuckerberg."

report this


Nov 14, 2017 at 17:01

Some posts on here seem just like the RT ads on the tube....

report this

William Marshall

Nov 18, 2017 at 12:26

A few years ago, I was a member of a ‘Member’s Forum’ - a quasi, parallel, toothless Board - set up by a large mutual building society. The Head of IT attended one of our meetings to apprise us, in general terms of the Society’s very successful IT security arrangements. When pressed, he told us that a) he did not himself use online personal banking and b) his home pc was protected by Kaspersky. Pick the bones out of that!

report this

leave a comment

Please sign in here or register here to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

News sponsored by:

The Citywire Guide to Investment Trusts

In this guide to investment trusts, produced in association with Aberdeen Asset Management, we spoke to many of the leading experts in the field to find out more.

Watch Now

Today's articles

Tools from Citywire Money

From the Forums

+ Start a new discussion

Weekly email from The Lolly

Get simple, easy ways to make more from your money. Just enter your email address below

An error occured while subscribing your email. Please try again later.

Thank you for registering for your weekly newsletter from The Lolly.

Keep an eye out for us in your inbox, and please add to your safe senders list so we don't get junked.


FTSE back above 7,000 as Superdry and Convatec dive

by Daniel Grote on Oct 15, 2018 at 15:15

Sorry, this link is not
quite ready yet