Russia

Russian defense industry giant Rostec bans employees from Facebook-owned WhatsApp & Microsoft’s Skype over state security concerns

The Russian state-owned corporation responsible for investing in strategically important companies, especially in the defense sector, has banned its employees from using American applications such as Zoom, Skype, and WhatsApp.

Rostec has ploughed money in hundreds of companies, including those that produce airplanes, tanks, and guns, as well as radio equipment and trucks. These businesses include household names such as the Kalashnikov Concern, the world-famous gun manufacturer.

Employees of the conglomerate are prohibited from installing foreign messengers on corporate laptops and computers, its press service said on Thursday.

Instead, the company has developed its own system called IVA AVES S, designed to be a secure means for intra-company communications. Fully developed in Russia, and adapted to the particular security requirements of various government agencies, it has been used extensively during the Covid-19 pandemic while employees work from home.

“Rostec is a major industrial company that operates in the defense sector and develops high-tech civilian areas in aviation, engine construction, electronics, medicine, pharma, and other fields,” a company statement said.

“This dictates very serious requirements for information security. It is forbidden to install foreign applications on company equipment.”

According to an anonymous source cited by Russian publication Daily Storm, a ban has always existed on paper, but it was ignored by many employees who chose to use Zoom and Skype for online meetings. Since the outbreak of Covid-19, the higher-ups have cracked down.

“Questions regarding security and possible leaks have increased, and the management has decided to tighten the bans with new orders,” the source said.

Earlier, Moscow daily RBK reported that the decision was made by management when WhatsApp announced changes to the privacy policy and the transfer of additional personal data to Facebook. Rostec has denied this allegation, suggesting the ban has been around for a long time.

However, the conglomerate has clarified that employees are not banned from using these applications on their personal devices.

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