Kaspersky's North American operations undergoes shuffle; head of PR leaves company

Kaspersky's Singapore office. (Flickr/e_kaspersky)

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Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm at the heart of an international controversy, is in the middle of a staff reshuffling at its North American offices.

The biggest public-facing personnel loss is Jennifer Wood, the head of Kaspersky’s corporate communications in North America and a self-described crisis communications professional.

The company’s North American operation also recently added new faces to several key positions, including Don Kaye as the new EVP of regional development in North America and Jason Stein as the new VP of all North American channel sales, meaning selling through intermediaries like retailers. With the recent federal goverment banprivate sector removals and charges that Russian intelligence uses Kaspersky as a spying tool, Kaye and Stein face mounting challenges in their new roles.

“After 20 years in business, we’ve learned that executive departures are a routine part of operations,” Kaspersky told CyberScoop. “Kaspersky Lab is fortunate to have a veteran leadership team that will continue driving the region to achieve its goals this year and beyond.”

Wood, who earlier in her career worked as a press secretary in the U.S. government, took the lead in dealing with media as charges of wrongdoing at Kaspersky emerged over the last year. When CyberScoop approached Kaspersky in the lead up to publishing several major stories on the company in recent months, it was Wood who coordinated the company’s response.

Wood’s absence may mean a change in tactics. New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth, who recently reported that Israel hacked Kaspersky and reported to the U.S. that the Russian government was abusing the cybersecurity firm to search for American secrets, said Kaspersky was silent despite her inquiries.

That’s a notable change in tactics from a company that had previously been offering a full-throated defense in the face of accusations.

Kaspersky has, in the days following the New York Times story, issued rebuttals and memes to the charges recently leveled in various news stories.

The U.S. and Western Europe is responsible for about 60 percent ($374 million) of the company’s $633 million sales in 2016, according to Bloomberg.

Last month, the company announced it would open three new offices in the U.S. within the next year in order to expand their U.S.-based line of business.

Correction: Jason Stein is responsible specifically for channel sales in North America, not all sales as previously reported.

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