Police software vendor scrambles to cut ties with Russia Business

A software company used by police across Britain to track down criminal suspects is working to cut ties with a Russian intelligence firm over security concerns.

i2, which is used by investigators to gather data on criminal suspects, said it rejected approaches from Social Links, a Moscow-based company that scours the web for information on individuals.

Authorities have warned of the risk of using Russian software in recent weeks, advising companies not to use antivirus tools made by Moscow-based Kaspersky.

Social Links is used by police forces across Europe to gather ‘open source’ information from sources such as social media profiles, but some forces are believed to have refused to work with the company in because of its links with Russia.

Last week, a separate software company, Maltego, added a tag to Social Links’ tools because of its operations in Russia.

Social Links was founded by three Russian entrepreneurs but claims to now have its headquarters in the Netherlands with computer servers based on European soil.

Last year, it announced a tie-up with i2, then owned by IBM, to integrate the two companies’ software.

i2 is used by police and other investigators to gather information on suspects and has an ‘umbrella agreement’ between UK police forces under an agreement brokered by the Home Office. It is unclear whether British forces used Social Links technology.

Harris Computer Corporation, a Canadian investor that bought i2 from IBM earlier this year, said it had no relationship and no plans to work with Social Links.

“Social Links initiated a discussion regarding a partnership with i2, which i2 declined,” Harris said.

“Contrary to Social Links’ unilateral announcement, neither Harris nor his i2 business has any business relationship, contractual or otherwise, with Social Links,” he said, adding that “we do not contemplate do it”.

Social Links, which says it works with half of EU law enforcement and law enforcement agencies in 50 countries, said it has never provided any software or services to the Russian government.

Andrey Kulikov, its chief executive, said the company was evacuating staff from Russia and Ukraine to offices in the EU and planned to liquidate its legal entity in Russia. The company plans to move to the United States.

In a LinkedIn post, the company said it opposes Russia’s war in Ukraine. “Believing that every nation and every country deserves to live in peace and independently determine its own development, we condemn Russian military actions on the territory of Ukraine,” he said.

Mr. Kulikov added that Harris’ rejection of the company would not affect his ability to work with the i2 software. “Harris’ position does not affect our right and desire to develop, improve and sell Social Links products,” he said.

Germany-headquartered Maltego, which added a “Russia-based” tag to social links when users link the two software, said it wanted customers to be informed.

“It is important to us that users of these integrations [such as] Kaspersky and SocialLinks can make informed decisions,” said Philip Mayrhofer, its chief executive. “That’s obviously in light of the war in Ukraine and different company policies around using services with a Russian affiliation.”

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This notice was published: 2022-03-28 05:00:00

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