The Kaspersky Diary

Navigating through a global pandemic

At Kaspersky, we sincerely believe that, just as in love and war, all is fair in the strange times of global lockdown.

During self-isolation, some of our employees found time to study online, do yoga, bake bread, post art parodies, or binge-watch all the seasons of their favorite TV shows once again. Some donated a share of their free time to those in need by taking up remote volunteering jobs. Some of us were even brave enough to venture out to the front line — to the red zones of hospitals — to help doctors with the overwhelming administrative backlogs. They even managed to keep working in between long hospital shifts. All of the above is testament to our workforce, who proved that we can all help in some way, even during such challenging times.

The world is yet to turn a complete corner in the ongoing fight against COVID-19, but positive success stories are important, and we felt it was important to recall how our company and team helped tackle the first wave. To that end, let’s return to early 2020.


The first red flags: donating masks to a hospital in Wuhan

Late in January, with the world still unsure of the impact the virus would have, Kaspersky’s Beijing office sent a request for help to HQ in Moscow. A hospital in Wuhan (or rather, the hospital) was in urgent need of masks, with supplies quickly running out.

It was impossible to come by respirators or latex gloves in China at that point, which was hard to believe," recalls Anastasiya Marentsova, CSR & Internal Communications Manager at Kaspersky. “The only option we had was to import them from Japan or Malaysia, but this was a challenge due to closing borders. However, the Beijing office was committed to getting masks to Wuhan, and our colleagues made sure that the hospital received the protective equipment it so desperately required.”

Despite the epidemic now spreading far beyond China, the full extent of the situation had not yet been globally recognized.

A coronavirus patient is being taken for surgery
The vial with the inscription "COVID-19 test"


The virus is on the offensive: we offer cybersecurity protection to hospitals and start volunteering remotely

Early in March, while we were gradually moving into the acceptance phase, the pandemic reached Europe and the U.S., and cybercriminals began to profit from the ubiquitous panic and confusion.

Doctors in masks

In mid-March, cybercriminals attacked the university clinic in Brno, Czech Republic, which was one of the country’s primary facilities carrying out coronavirus tests at the time. Healthcare personnel were forced to suspend their work until the databases were restored and even had to transfer some patients to a neighboring hospital.

Around the same time, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) suffered a DDoS attack on its servers, which were crucial in ensuring the efficiency of the pandemic response. The HHS systems, however, withstood the assault.

In the UK, cybercriminals launched an unconventional phishing campaign that specifically targeted doctors. They gathered doctors’ personal data by offering registration for coronavirus workshops. Invitations to the events appeared to have been sent by the IT departments of hospitals and outpatient clinics. How the criminals intended to use the data is still unknown.

Doctors in masks

It quickly became clear that, given the more pressing challenges they were facing, doctors needed protection from this cyberthreat.

“We decided to offer free licenses for our products to healthcare organizations worldwide, in order to protect computers and cloud infrastructures in hospitals and clinics. The aim was to guard against attacks and other threats for the next six months," recalls Evgeniya Naumova, Vice President of the Global Sales Network at Kaspersky. "We were aware of the extreme challenges faced by healthcare institutions. Hospital and clinic personnel were reaching the limits of their infrastructure. So we announced the opportunity to get free security through our numerous partners and regional offices, and launched a dedicated page on our website. Anyone whose work had at least something to do with healthcare could get a free license — all they had to do was send a request.

I know that many hospitals and clinics saved a lot of time because they could forgot the procurement process. Our partners quickly supplied licenses to all the organizations that contacted us.”

The offer was welcomed by both small clinics and large state-funded medical centers and hospitals. Free licenses were subsequently sent across Russia, the C.I.S., Europe, the Middle East, Africa, North and Latin America, and APAC.


To date,
Kaspersky has provided
350,000 licensesfor doctors and healthcare personnel.

World map with marked cities where Kaspersky solutions were installed»
2,300healthcare organizations across

Algeria, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Belarus, Bolivia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Egypt, Germany, Honduras, Hungary, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Libya, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Surinam, Taiwan, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

Doctors in the operating room

In the meantime, Kaspersky’s HQ and its global offices had made the transition to remote working. Employees naturally took time to adjust to this new reality, with anxiety compounded by self-isolation. This was exacerbated among those who spent their free time volunteering at hospices and nursing homes, helping cancer patients, visiting orphanages, or even just donating blood.

“We gave people orientation, and we know that many jumped at these opportunities, but we didn’t gather detailed statistics,” says Anastasiya Marentsova. “After all, volunteering is a very personal effort. For many of our colleagues, this “personal effort” took the shape of remote communication with nursing home residents who struggled with isolation, as well as free professional IT support for healthcare institutions, and even volunteering in red zones”.

April 2020

Remote work drive: we launch a course on survival while online and outside the office, and begin producing pillows for ICUs

In April, we learned that, while self-isolation can protect you from a pandemic, the opposite is true for cyberthreats. When we started getting a barrage of requests from numerous companies to help them prepare their employees for secure remote work, we decided once again to do the right thing and help for free.

People in surgical masks and medical gloves are walking down the street

“After working in an office with secure Wi-Fi, corporate restrictions, and a system administrator on hand to help, employees found themselves on their sofa, with their private laptop, via an internet connection supplied by their home provider,” recalls Elena Molchanova, Head of Project Marketing at Kaspersky. “Even the most advanced employees didn’t always understand what steps they needed to take to protect their new office against cyberthreats. You can imagine how hard it was for those whose work wasn’t related to information security. All in all, the idea of a new educational product on how to protect your workstations from cyberthreats, and yourself from the coronavirus, was significant.”

Monitor where the online course "Security during a pandemic in life and in business" is open""

Eventually, Kaspersky teamed up with Area9 Lyceum, one of the leaders in adaptive learning, to develop a free online course titled “Stay Safe, Stay Secure” in just a couple of weeks. The course includes two modules.

The first module, Physical Safety, was designed by Giuseppe Lippi, Professor of Clinical Biochemistry at the University of Verona. The participants spend 15 minutes on questions about the challenging epidemiological situation, how to recognize it, and most importantly, how to protect themselves.

The second module, which is very lively and engaging despite the seriousness of the topic, deals with cybersecurity. Every lesson of the module starts with a question. The interactive system evaluates the user’s answer and level of confidence, and then decides whether the user needs background information or whether they can move onto the next topic. Adaptive learning technologies were put to good use during a critical time.

“We worked on this online course around the clock. Everyone realized the urgency,” says Elena Molchanova. “As a result, it took off on April 10. Starting from day one, the course webpage started getting hundreds of visitors, and in several countries, the ministries of education and healthcare explicitly recommended that their employees sign up for our course. The initial plan was to offer the course only in Russian and English, but we later responded to our foreign colleagues’ requests and translated it into seven more languages. Naturally, it’s a source of pride for us.”

2 weeks to develop a free online course Kaspersky teamed up with Area9 Lyceum, one of the leaders in adaptive learning, to develop a free online course titled “Stay Safe, Stay Secure” in just a couple of weeks.

April was marked by another event that was strangely typical for these new times. To our own surprise, we began manufacturing pillows for intensive care units... But first, a little context...

It all started with Mikhail Ketskalo, head of one of Moscow’s few ECMO centers at Hospital 52, who published a post on Facebook asking for help from anyone who could design and manufacture special protector pillows for ICU patients.

Ketskalo and his fellow critical care physicians use extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machines as a last hope for those coronavirus patients with acute respiratory distress – those who can’t be helped by artificial lung ventilation or regular ICU methods. Such patients’ hearts and lungs are failing, so ECMO machines pump their blood and do the breathing for them.

They spend a long time at an ECMO center in an induced coma in the so-called prone position — lying flat with the chest down for easier lung ventilation. This position inevitably causes bedsores and damage to the nose and eyes. The only way of avoiding this is to use special protector pillows that support the brow and the chin without putting pressure on the sensory organs. When the pandemic broke out, however, Russia had no domestic manufacturers of these pillows, and importing them from Europe was difficult and extremely expensive.

Mikhail’s call for help via social media was picked up by Maria Dukhvalova, a Moscow-based industrial designer. “At the time, I was in close touch with my Italian friends,” she recalls. “We were discussing an Italian project to turn a snorkeling mask into an oxygen mask with 3D printing. I thought we might try to use quick prototyping technologies to manufacture an ICU pillow of the kind Mikhail needed.”

Pillow protector for patients in intensive care
Doctors in the intensive care unit

Several specialists instantly responded to Maria’s request to assist with the 3D pillow model. The European sample was made from a patented material that wasn’t produced in Russia. They needed a replacement and found it through a Moscow-based company engaged in the production of street furniture from polyurethane foam with water-resistant and antibacterial coating. Maria contacted Mikhail for more details and soon brought him a prototype. The doctor tested and approved it.

Doctors in protective suits

The next step was financing mass production, and at that point, Maria approached Kaspersky. “The company’s management reacted almost instantly,” she recalls. “It was amazing to see people from very different backgrounds unite to help others and commit to working 24 hours a day to ease the suffering of patients they would probably never see. This inspires faith in humanity.”

Kaspersky paid for the first batch of 20 pillows, after which other donors joined the initiative. “Thanks to the manufacturing community and your company, it has been possible to design a Russian prototype of the protector pillow and set up mass production almost on an industrial scale, to meet the needs of healthcare institutions. Thank you for your contribution!” Mikhail Ketskalo wrote to us.


Raising money: a 1.1 million ruble donation is made to help combat coronavirus

Early in May, we launched a global fundraising campaign among our employees to help charities all over the world. By mid-May, we were calculating how much money our colleagues had donated to the accounts of various foundations and institutions at the forefront of the pandemic response.


$15,100(1,120,000 rubles)approximately was donated in total by Kaspersky employees to the pandemic response. When the fundraising campaign came to an end in May, Kaspersky donated the same amount to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Anastasiya Marentsova:

Anastasiya Marentsova:

“During the pandemic, we started getting a lot of questions from employees about ways to contribute to the fight against the coronavirus and what we were doing as a company. In response, we decided to launch a fundraising campaign: we selected local and global charities all over the world and suggested making donations and sending the receipts to us. We then calculated the total amount donated by employees and transferred the same amount to the International Committee of the Red Cross.”

$5,000(370,000 rubles)to the International Committee of the Red Cross

$10,100(750,000 rubles)to 33 non-profit organizations all over the world for:

The chart costs Image of things that were spent on

3weeksof fundraising

183employeesfrom Russia, Europe, the U.S., Asia, and Latin America

8currenciesused to make donations