Russian Cybersecurity, Surveillance and Telecoms Firms To Appear At International Trade Fairs

Almost 50 Russian tech companies, whose products range from cybersecurity and facial recognition software to digital forensics tools and telecoms hardware, are set to promote their wares at international trade fairs alongside officials from the UK and U.S. despite international sanctions prompted by the invasion of Ukraine.
Russian cybersecurity, surveillance and telelcoms firms report main image showing anti-war protesters supporting Ukraine in Washington DC
Samuel Woodhams
Christine O'Donnell
Samuel Woodhams & Christine O'Donnell
  • 48 Russian companies to promote tech at international trade fairs alongside U.S. and UK officials
  • 8 out of 10 of the events are hosted in the UK, U.S. and Europe
  • UAE’s GITEX Global x AI is hosting the most Russian companies (44), followed by MWC Barcelona (5 companies) and the UK’s Security Event (2)
  • Cybersecurity giant Kaspersky is set to exhibit at 2 events despite government advisor warnings
  • Russian technology marketed at the events include: facial recognition, digital forensics, cybersecurity solutions and telecommunication equipment

Cybersecurity & Privacy Risks of Russian Tech at International Trade Fairs

Since the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, American, British and European officials have warned of the potential cybersecurity risks of using Russian information security technologies.

Germany’s Federal Office for Information Security recently highlighted the risk, warning that “A Russian IT manufacturer can carry out offensive operations itself, be forced against its will to attack target systems, or be spied on as a victim of a cyber operation without its knowledge or as a tool for attacks against its own customers.”[1]

Kaspersky, the Russian cybersecurity and anti-virus software vendor, has faced significant pressure, with officials warning that the technology could pose a risk to national security and citizens’ digital privacy.

The U.S. has also sanctioned Mikron, Russia’s largest microchip manufacturer, and supercomputer firm T-Platforms.[2]

The warnings have been made as governments around the world imposed economic sanctions on Russian companies and prominent individuals in a bid to damage Russia’s economy. Since the invasion, the Kremlin has further eroded freedom of expression, blocking thousands of websites which spurred a huge increase in demand for VPN apps that work in Russia.

Despite attempts to restrict Russia’s cybersecurity, surveillance and telecom companies, many remain free to promote their technology and foster relationships with government officials at international trade fairs.

We analyzed over 50 events and identified 10 that will promote Russian technology companies alongside European, British and American government officials.

Not only does this provide tacit approval to the companies set to appear, it also raises the possibility of government agencies from Europe, the UK, and U.S. attempting to procure Russian technologies.

The companies included in this report sell a wide range of products, from facial recognition software to cybersecurity tools. We are publishing this research to highlight the risk the proliferation of these technologies may pose to our privacy and security, as well as draw attention to the important role they play in generating international revenue for Russia.

While some of these events have now taken place, all of those included started after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

See the full details of the events, companies and government attendees referenced in this report

The following table details the trade fairs occurring globally since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. It includes information on the Russian tech companies and international government officials that are set to appear.

[1] SpeechPro is the U.S. trading name of Russian company Speech Technology Center
[2] Oxygen Forensics has close links to the Russian company, Oxygen Software, as detailed below in the company’s background section

Controversial Russian Tech Firms

Kaspersky

Products: Cybersecurity Software
Events:

  • MWC Barcelona (Spain)
    • Government Attendees: U.S. Consulate General Barcelona; UK Department for International Trade; UK Commonwealth & Development Office; European Commission; UNDP
  • GITEX Global x AI (UAE)
    • Government Attendees: UK Department for International Trade; Invest Northern Ireland; Republic of Serbia; Regione Campania (Italian regional agency)

Cybersecurity company Kaspersky has recently come under renewed scrutiny following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. In March, the Federal Communications Commission placed the firm on its list of companies considered a threat to national security.[3] In response Kaspersky wrote: “This decision is not based on any technical assessment of Kaspersky products – that the company continuously advocates for – but instead is being made on political grounds.” [4]

Earlier that month, however, we can reveal the FCC’s Jessica Rosenworcel was the keynote speaker at Mobile World Capital’s event in Barcelona. Kaspersky was a gold sponsor of the event. The UK’s Department for International Trade and the Government of Catalonia were also present at the event, alongside Huawei, China Unicorn, and Amazon Web Services.

Later in the year, GITEX Global x AI in Dubai will host Kaspersky. Russian government institutions will also be represented at the event, including St Petersburg’s Committee for Industrial Policy, Innovations and Trade, as well as Moscow’s Export Center which works to promote Moscow’s manufacturers globally.

The UK’s Department for International Trade and various European government agencies are also scheduled to appear at the event.

NTechLab

Products: Facial Recognition
Event:

  • GITEX Global x AI (UAE)
    • Government Attendees: UK Department for International Trade; Invest Northern Ireland; Republic of Serbia; Regione Campania (Italian regional agency)

NTechLabs is one of Russia’s most well-known facial recognition companies. It gained notoriety for its FindFace software which was capable of identifying individuals by scanning images from Russian social media network, VK.

Since then, the company has rolled out facial recognition systems in India, Russia and Bangladesh.[5][6][7]

Despite potentially having access to swathes of sensitive data and dramatically undermining the privacy of Russian citizens, the company is set to exhibit at an event alongside UK and European officials in Dubai.

Oxygen Forensics

Products: Digital Forensics
Events:

  • Crimes Against Children Conference (U.S.)
    • Government Attendees: Homeland Security Investigations, FBI, Multiple Police departments, United States Marshall Service, Tallahassee Police Department, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office
  • General Police Equipment Exhibition & Conference (Germany)
    • Government Attendees: Police Inspectorate Central Services Saxony-Anhalt; Hessian Police Headquarters for Technology; Police administration office in Saxony; State Criminal Police Office of North Rhine, Central Police Headquarters Lower Saxony
  • Home Office Security & Policing Event (UK)
    • Government Attendees: UK Home Office, UK Department for International Trade, Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, Security Industry Authority, UK Defense and Security Exports
  • HTCIA International Conference & Expo (U.S. / Virtual)
    • Government Attendees: U.S. Department of Justice Cybercrime Lab
  • Techno Security & Digital Forensics Conference (U.S.)
    • Government Attendees: U.S. Airforce, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Homeland Security Investigations, South Carolina Cyber Fraud Task Force, Quebec Provincial Police

Oxygen Forensics creates tools that can locate, identify and acquire data from a device. Its flagship product, Oxygen Forensic Detective, is advertised as a “all-in-one forensic software platform built to extract, decode, and analyze data from multiple digital sources.” [8]

According to its website, the company has a wide range of customers, including the U.S. Army, Department of Homeland Security, FBI, IRS and Department of Defense. In Europe, its customers include London Metropolitan Police, the French National Police, the Spanish Civil Guard, and the German Federal Criminal Police Office. [9]

The company is registered in Virginia but its founders and directors, Oleg Fedorov and Oleg Davydov, are both Russian.[10] In a 2017 Forbes article, it was revealed the two still resided in Moscow, though we’re unable to confirm if this is still the case. [11]

In 2001, Fedorov founded CJSC Oxygen Software which, in 2015, was renamed Oxygen Software LLC. Both companies were registered in Moscow.[12] [13]

In 2011, Wikileaks released a promotional brochure made by the company that outlined the technology’s capabilities. On the final page, the brochure references both Oxygen Software and Oxygen Forensics, which suggests a close link between the two companies.[14] Although Oleg Fedorov does not appear on the website of Oxygen Forensics, his LinkedIn profile reveals he is still the director of the U.S.-registered firm.[15]

The U.S. company, Oxygen Forensics, is set to appear at 5 trade fairs this year and will exhibit its products alongside the likes of the UK Home Office, the FBI, and multiple German federal departments.

Screenshot of Oxygen Forensic Detective solution

Screenshot of the features offered by Oxygen Forensic’s Detective software.

Additional Companies

Cybersecurity company AV Soft has headquarters in Moscow. They exhibited its products at the MWC Barcelona event, where the UK Department for International Trade and the European Commission were also in attendance.

The company is also scheduled to attend GITEX Global x AI in Dubai later this year, where government representatives from around the world will be participating.

NAG is a telecommunications equipment provider headquartered in Ekaterinburg, Russia. According to the company’s website, the company has range of private and Russian state-owned customers from Rostelecom, Veon Group and Tele2 to Gazprom.[16]

They also have an exhibitor stand reserved for the GITEX Global x AI trade fair in Dubai promoting its products alongside Russia’s Export Center to world leaders.

SpeechPro is the U.S. company name of voice and facial recognition company Speech Technology Centre, located in Saint Petersburg.

According to Wired, the company can be traced back to a secretive technology unit run during the Soviet era under the KBG.[17]

SpeechPro will be presenting its technology at the GITEX Global x AI event in Dubai later this year.

Beeline is a telecommunications brand, operating under Moscow-headquartered Vimpelcom, and is allegedly Russia’s third-largest telecommunications operator.[18]

Beeline’s President, Rashid Ismailov, was as one of the speakers of the MWC Barcelona trade fair. As President, he manages and provides communications services for a number of government institutions.

Ismailov previously served as the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Digital Development, Communications and mass Media of the Russian Federation.

Beeline has featured in our previous research due to its commercial relationship with Israeli Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) provider, Allot. DPI technology, while often used for legitimate purposes, also has the capacity to allow authorities to monitor and block access to a range of applications and websites.

Secret Technologies is an information security software company based in Moscow, Russia.

According to its website, customers include Gazprom Bank, Central Bank of the Russian Federation and Glavgosekspertiza Rossii (government department within the Ministry of Construction, Housing and Utilities).[19]

The company promoted its technology at the MWC Barcelona event that took place between 28 February and 3 March.

Additional Russian companies set to appear alongside UK, U.S. and European governments at the 10 events referenced in this report:

  • Aktiv Company
  • Arcadia
  • Aurus LLC
  • Avrora Robotics
  • AxxonSoft
  • Bellsoft
  • Borlas Group
  • Collective Intelligence Systems
  • Damask LLC
  • Dialog
  • Droneport
  • Elcomplus
  • Eltex Enterprise
  • Examus
  • Flussonic / Erlyvideo
  • Irida LLC
  • IVA Technologies
  • Ivedeon
  • NSGate
  • OCM Consulting
  • Omnicomm
  • Positive Technologies
  • Promobot
  • Protei Ltd
  • Qrator Labs
  • RecFaces LLC
  • RDP
  • Rubius
  • Search Inform Ltd
  • Servicepipe
  • Sigma Messaging
  • Smart Tech Ltd
  • Solut
  • Statanly Technologies
  • T8 LLC
  • Telebreeze
  • Texel
  • Trialink
  • Vision Labs
  • XReady Lab
  • YSAR JSC
  • Zecurion

For a full details of the events, companies and government attendees please see this data sheet.

Methodology

To identify the Russian companies and government officials exhibiting at international trade fairs, we analysed the publicly available exhibitor lists of over 50 events.

Additional information regarding the ownership structure, types of technology produced and personnel involved were identified via a variety of open source investigation methods.

The authors of all our investigations abide by the journalists’ code of conduct.


Main image: Washington DC, USA- February 24th, 2022: Anti-war Protesters holding pro-Ukraine signs outside the White House after Russia invaded Ukraine. Credit: Eli Wilson / Shutterstock

References

[1] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-60738208

[2] https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-sanctions-russian-tech-companies-whole-sectors-of-russian-economy-11648748173

[3] https://www.theverge.com/2022/3/26/22997532/fcc-kaspersky-list-national-security-threats-huawei-zte

[4] https://www.kaspersky.com/about/press-releases/2022_kaspersky-statement-on-the-fcc-public-notice

[5] https://www.business-humanrights.org/de/neuste-meldungen/india-ntechlab-supplies-facial-recognition-to-track-millions-of-commuters-despite-lack-of-legislation-safeguards/

[6] https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-51324841

[7] https://www.biometricupdate.com/202204/ntechlab-moves-into-bangladesh-with-facial-recognition-partnership

[8] https://www.oxygen-forensic.com/en/products/oxygen-forensic-detective

[9] https://www.oxygen-forensic.com/downloads/advanced/Oxygen_Forensics_Analytics.pdf

[10] https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomasbrewster/2017/08/30/russian-hackers-help-us-with-encryption-nightmare/?sh=8898e173e689

[11] https://cis.scc.virginia.gov/EntitySearch/BusinessInformation?businessId=190423&source=FromEntityResult&isSeries%20=%20false

[12] https://checko.ru/company/1027739181678

[13] https://checko.ru/company/1157746466492

[14] https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/document/oxygen/34_mobile-forensic-analysis-for-smartphones/page-10/#pagination

[15] https://www.linkedin.com/in/oleg-fedorov-07953122/

[16] https://nag.company/en

[17] https://www.wired.com/2013/05/russian-surveillance-technologies/

[18] https://www.veon.com/our-brands/beeline-russia/

[19] https://secretgroup.ru/