International conflicts such as the current tensions over Ukraine could stand in the way of global cooperation on cybersecurity, according to the founder of Kaspersky Lab.
"Governments must cooperate, and I'm afraid that what's going on ... well, it doesn't help," said Eugene Kaspersky, chairman and CEO of the security research and technology company that bears his name. He spoke on Tuesday at a Kaspersky conference in San Francisco that highlighted the importance of cooperation and information-sharing to combat cyber threats.
Anything that decreases trust among governments can hurt such efforts, Kaspersky added. Last year's Edward Snowden affair, in which the former National Security Agency contractor revealed evidence that the U.S. spied on foreign leaders, also hurt international trust, Kaspersky said.
"It will damage global Internet projects," he said. "Nations will be more focused on the national projects. That's good news for the local IT companies, but ... the evolution of cyberspace will slow down."
On Tuesday, Ukrainian troops clashed with pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine. The fighting came just weeks after the conflict in Crimea, which led to Crimea seceding from Ukraine. In response, the U.S. government imposed sanctions against Russia and cut back on some joint efforts with the country, including space programs.
Kaspersky Lab, founded and based in Russia, still does most of its research in Moscow but is an international company, Kaspersky said. As a cybersecurity company, it remains neutral in all political issues, other than abiding by international sanctions against pariah states such as Iran and North Korea, he said.
The company has a regional headquarters in Ukraine, but the conflict there has not hurt its business in any part of the world, Kaspersky said.
"We keep our distance and we are hoping that this situation will be fixed soon and in a peaceful way," he said.