One of the smartest men in the security world is facing every parent’s worst nightmare, if media reports are to be believed. Ivan Kaspersky, 20, the son of Kaspersky Lab co-founder Yevgeny (Eugene) Kaspersky, is said to have been abducted from the north-west part of Moscow on Tuesday, while on his way to work.
Lifenews (translation) broke the story on Thursday. According to reports, law enforcement has been searching for young Ivan for the last 48 hours.
The same day he was taken, the paper reported that the kidnappers contacted Eugene Kaspersky in London and demanded a ransom of €3 million Euros. Shortly after the call, the Kaspersky Lab boss boarded a plane bound for Moscow.
The company where Ivan works, InfoWatch, somewhat confirmed he had been snatched from right outside of its offices, but no other details regarding the incident are currently known.
Local law enforcement authorities, as well as the Secret Service and the Criminal Investigation Department are believed to be following a number of possible leads.
Kaspersky Labs has neither confirmed nor denied the kidnapping.
The Tech Herald will update this breaking story as and when further details arise.
(4-24-11) 5:29 p.m. EST
Kaspersky sent the following to The Tech Herald just a moment ago:
Kaspersky Lab confirms that an operation to free Ivan Kaspersky was carried out successfully by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Criminal Investigation Department of the Moscow Police and Kaspersky Lab's own security personnel. Ivan is alive and well and is currently located at a safe location. No ransom was paid during the rescue operation. Eugene Kaspersky and Natalya Kaspersky are currently unavailable for comment.
(4-24-11) 1:03 p.m. EST
Citing a statement from Kaspersky Labs in Moscow, Reuters is reporting Ivan Kaspersky is indeed home safely, and that no ransom was paid for his freedom.
Ivan, who is the son of Kaspersky Lab co-founder Yevgeny (Eugene) Kaspersky, was kidnapped on his way to work last Tuesday. Reports of his return started to circulate on Friday.
Law enforcement officials told Interfax News that a “special operation” misled the abductors, resulting in the young man’s freedom. In addition, five suspects have been arrested in connection with the case.
While the whole episode was heartbreaking, we’re honestly glad to see reports of his safe return.
(4-22-11) 1:30 p.m. EST
According to LifeNews, the tabloid responsible for the kidnapping story, Ivan Kaspersky has been released after a ransom was paid. The reported demand was €3 million Euros at first, but sources told the paper that they were not aware of the total sum actually paid to secure his alleged release.
While this is positive news, and we certainly hope this is true, Kaspersky has not confirmed the reports.
Likewise, contacted by The Tech Herald, Russian law enforcement would not confirm or deny the investigation status.
(4-22-11) 2:35 a.m. EST
Kaspersky issues the following statement to RIA Novosti in Moscow:
"Kaspersky Lab calls on the media to stop spreading rumors and speculation about the events related to the family members of Yevgeny Kaspersky. Yevgeny Kaspersky is working normally, but he commented that the information being circulated is harmful for the company."
(4-22-11) 2:14 a.m. EST
According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta (translation), the Russian government’s daily paper, law enforcement has confirmed that Ivan Kaspersky was indeed kidnapped on Tuesday. Nearly 72 hours have now passed since he was last seen.
In addition, the paper continued to report on the speculation that social networking information might have helped the kidnappers in executing the abduction. While the social networking aspect remains pure speculation, Ivan’s 'Vkontakte.ru' account carried his full details, including home and work addresses.
The kidnappers' motives are unknown (beyond obvious financial gain), but Rossiyskaya Gazeta reported on a few possibilities after speaking with authorities, including using Ivan as leverage in exchange for technological information.
Moreover, the paper also speculated that the kidnapping was likely orchestrated by rivals looking to damage Eugene Kaspersky’s business, or perhaps ex-business partners and investors.
Officially, Kaspersky Labs hasn’t issued any statements on the situation. Its continued silence, in addition to the slow media reports emerging from Russia, are fueling speculation.
We’ll keep following this story and post more information as and when we have it.
(4-21-11) 12:48 p.m. EST
"The odd thing is, I chatted to Eugene Kaspersky at about 6pm in London last night, and he seemed his normal jolly self. In fact, he tried to lure me into having a quick drink with him and we posed for a couple of goofy photographs together.
"Furthermore, a contact at Kaspersky's company tells me that they knew nothing of any problems involving Kaspersky's son, and that Eugene's plan was always to fly back to Moscow last night.
"Of course, it's possible that Kaspersky only discovered his son was in danger as he travelled to the airport, but we should perhaps not read too much into the timing of Eugene's flight out of London."
Like Sophos, we too are hoping there is some confusion and that the reports of Ivan’s kidnapping are a severe misunderstanding.
(4-21-11) 2:48 p.m. EST
The Sophos blog post we linked to earlier has been deleted for personal reasons. Out of respect for Graham Cluley, we have removed images and links to the aforementioned content.