Kaspersky vows anti-virus products are safe despite source-code theft

The code was stolen by a worker who had access to 2008 code for the company's consumer products and who tried to sell it over the Internet

Kasperesky Lab says the anti-virus source code that one of its employees stole three years ago and distributed online cannot harm customers of the company's current products.

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The code was stolen by a worker who had access to 2008 code for the company's consumer products and who tried to sell it over the Internet. He was found guilty of the theft in Russia and received a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence.

"Kaspersky Lab reiterates that this incident cannot harm users of its products, solutions and services in any way," the company says in a written statement.

After the thief was prosecuted in Russia, the code showed up again in November 2010 in underground online forums and afterward was posted on more public sites, the company says. The company found out about these latest illegal postings Jan. 27.

After checking the code, it correlated it with the 2008 theft.

"The stolen source code is related to one of the previous product lineups, and since then the company has renewed all key protection technologies," Kaspersky's statement reads. "The stolen code represents a very small part of the modern product source code, and is not related to protection functionality."

A spokesperson for the company declined to say what non-protection functionality the code controlled. "It also contains fragments of an obsolete version of the Kaspersky anti-virus engine, which has been radically redesigned and updated since the source code was stolen," the statement says.

The company says all its code is copyrighted and protected by trade-secret laws, so posting, downloading and using the code without authorization is illegal. "Kaspersky Lab will take all appropriate legal measures against those who violate these intellectual property laws by possessing or seeking to possess, or sharing the illegally disclosed source code," the company says.

The company says it continues to work with law enforcement authorities on the theft.

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