The Russian media is reporting today that Ruslan Stoyanov, a manager working at the Kaspersky Lab, Russia’s leading cyber security and anti-virus provider, has been arrested by Russia’s counter-intelligence agency the FSB.
The FSB’s involvement, and the fact that Stoyanov is apparently being charged with treason, inevitably provokes speculation that he was providing information to the intelligence agency of some foreign government.
Since Stoyanov’s arrest apparently happened in December – at the time that the allegations of Russian interference in the US election were at their height – in turn also leads to suspicions that Stoyanov may be one of the informants the US intelligence community relied on in making its claims of Russian cyber attacks during the US election. See for example this report from Reuters, which engages in precisely such speculation.
To add to the mystery, there also reports that a department head within the FSB has also been arrested together with Stoyanov, and is also being held on treason charges.
The Kaspersky Lab for its part has gone out of its way to deny any involvement in the case, saying that the actions which caused Stoyanov’s arrest date from before his employment with the Kaspersky Lab. According to a report by Interfax, the Kaspersky Lab also denies that Stoyanov had a senior management post at the Lab.
At this point far too little about Stoyanov’s case is known to make any speculation about it fruitful or to say whether it has any connection to US claims about Russian cyber activity, though I would say that if it does then the huge publicity the Obama administration and the US intelligence community gave to the claims of Russian hacking would appear to have compromised two of their sources in Russia.
I would also make one further point. This is that the US intelligence community is refusing to make public its 50 page report on alleged Russian interference in the US election – of which the 25 page report it has published is merely a redacted copy – on the grounds that doing so might compromise its sources in Russia.
This is hopeless. The mere act of compiling and circulating the report has already fatally compromised the sources.
Russian intelligence knows of the report’s existence, and given its contents it is certain to be committing its huge resources to getting hold of a copy. With this report circulating widely in Washington amongst members of Congress and their aides, and probably amongst all sorts of other people as well, it is only a matter of time before a complete translated and annotated copy lands on Putin’s desk, assuming it has not done so already.