I honestly don’t know.
But there are a couple of observations I’d like to share about the situation; perhaps they will allow you to come to a decision.
These are politically charged times, without a doubt, particularly when you mention Russia. And the “truth” you’re looking for? I’m not sure we’d recognize truth if it slapped us in the face.
This is nothing new
I think it’s important to realize that this is nothing new at all.
As long as Kaspersky has been around, and as long as it’s been well publicized that they have Russian ties, there have been statements ranging from mild concern to outright accusations of spying or other underhanded deals. To the best of my knowledge, not once has any of it come close to being substantiated.
Naturally, with the current political issues relating to Russian involvement in things that perhaps they ought not to, these accusations are making headlines once again. It’s not in the least bit surprising, but as I said, it’s really nothing new.
It’s not limited to Kaspersky
Any company with ties or headquarters outside of the U.S. comes under scrutiny.
Another common target is EaseUS – the makers of EaseUS Todo, backup software that I recommend, as well as other disk and system utilities I and others often recommend for a variety of reasons. EaseUS is headquartered in China, and some have expressed concern that they might be spying or hacking on behalf of the Chinese government …
… almost exactly the same claims leveled at Kaspersky, with the same results: to the best of my knowledge, nothing has ever been proven.
Kaspersky denies it all … of course
Kaspersky denies it all, but then, that’s exactly what you’d expect them to say. That they say it sways no one.
They down-play their Russian connection. The Kaspersky website, for example, says:
Founded in 2004, Kaspersky Lab North America is a Massachusetts corporation and is a wholly-owned subsidiary of its holding company, Kaspersky Labs Limited, based in the United Kingdom.
Searching the Kaspersky website from within the United States, it’s nearly impossible to locate or view pages containing any reference to Russia. Only via Google’s cache of the primary contact page1 can we see that Kaspersky is headquartered in Moscow.
Are they hiding something? Or are they simply reacting in a reasonable way by focusing on their international and UK connections? Both approaches seem at least plausible.
If it ain’t broke?
The software generally gets good reviews, and they have many, many happy customers around the globe.
There’s a very strong argument that says if it’s working and working well, leaving things be is a pragmatic approach.
If you remain concerned
But …. Russia! (Or China! Or whatever country isn’t your country.)
If you remain concerned about the possibilities, there are many alternatives. I generally recommend Windows Defender, already included in Windows 10, as being quite sufficient, and of low impact for the majority of users.
But there are many, many valid and respectable alternatives. If it helps you sleep at night, switch to something else.
What I would do
If I were in your shoes, here’s what I would do:
- I would continue using Kaspersky. It sounds like it’s done well for you, and that track record counts for a lot.
- I would not pay much attention to alarmist press. They’re all about getting headlines and clicks, and particularly in today’s politically charged environment, nothing gets more attention than the potential for Russian spying. It’s impossible to know The Truth these days, but making things up, or sensationalizing even the most trivial rumors, is one way news and not-quite-news sites get attention to try to make money.
- I would keep paying attention to sources I already trust. If that’s Ask Leo!, great. If it’s some other site or source, fantastic. If something actually happens — if there’s ever truly proof, if suspicions are confirmed, or if there’s anything at all to worry about — you can be assured that legitimate sites2 will cover it in detail, without over-sensationalizing it.