Taiga, a new smartphone developed by Natalya Kaspersky offers to protect identities of Russian citizens from being harvested by the likes of Facebook and Google.
Taiga will soon be used by 50,000 employees at Russian firms co-owned by the Russian government to safeguard personal and corporate data.
InfoWatch Group, a Moscow-based security firm run by Natalya Kaspersky, former wife of Eugene Kaspersky, will soon launch a new smartphone with the ability to prevent apps like Google and Facebook from harvesting data belonging to private citizens.
The new smartphone, dubbed Taiga after a desolate Siberian forest, will give users the ability to monitor and control what data apps are trying to collect from their phones. At the same time, IT departments at corporations will also be able to view what content users are accessing or what apps are allowed to run on a device owned by an employee.
The primary aim of Taiga is to ensure that sensitive data belonging to Russian citizens or corporations are not harvested or transferred to servers located in the United States. Even though Taiga runs an Android-based firmware, no Android app available on the Google Play Store will be able to collect data from a Taiga phone.
‘Most smartphone apps collect certain data on users and send it to outside servers. When people use personal phones at work, their corporate emails, documents and job-related photos come under threat of being — maliciously or accidentally — leaked to third parties,’ said Natalya Kaspersky.
Once the Russian orders are fulfilled, InfoWatch Group may also sell Taiga in more countries, including the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia. The new technology inside Taiga now seems like a brilliant riposte from the Russians, considering that products sold by Eugene Kaspersky’s Kaspersky Lab were red-flagged by U.S. intelligence agencies a week ago.
In a recent press release, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said that Kaspersky anti-virus products and solutions provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed, and this, in turn, offers cyber criminals the opportunity to compromise those information systems.
The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks.
‘The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security,’ the department added.