A cybersecurity researcher that heads antivirus firm Kaspersky Lab’s investigation unit has been arrested in Russia on charges of treason. Sources within the Federal Security Service (FSB) relayed information regarding the arrest of Ruslan Stoyanov to the Russian newspaper Kommersant.
The case is being filed under Article 275 of the Russian criminal code, which is meant to prosecute individuals who take part in "hostile activities to the detriment of the external security of the Russian Federation" and/or provide aid to foreign states or organizations according to Forbes.
Representatives for Kaspersky Lab have been quick to indicate that this arrest has nothing to do with the company, and relates specifically to Stoyanov’s actions prior to his arrival at the company in 2012. Stoyanov held a key position in the Ministry of Interior’s Moscow Cyber Crime Unit between 2000 and 2006 according to his LinkedIn profile.
“This case is not related to Kaspersky Lab. Ruslan Stoyanov is under investigation for a period predating his employment at Kaspersky Lab,” said a Kaspersky Lab spokesperson. “We do not possess details of the investigation. The work of Kaspersky Lab’s Computer Incidents Investigation Team is unaffected by these developments.”
It is reported that the arrest is in relation to an investigation into Sergei Mikhailov, who was detained alongside Stoyanov in December 2016. Mikhailov served as the deputy head of the FSB’s information security department.
Stoyanov is a well-respected hacking expert that is well-versed in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. He even worked closely with the Russian government during his time at Kaspersky Lab on busting up the Lurk financial cybercrime organization after a lengthy six-year investigation. Over 50 individuals were arrested thanks to the investigation, which stood accused of stealing over $45 million from banks and businesses.
It is not known if the arrests are in relation to the alleged hacks by Russia during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. U.S. government officials and intelligence agencies — led by former U.S. President Barack Obama — have repeatedly accused of Russia of meddling in its affairs.