U.S. orders purge of Russian Kaspersky anti-virus products

Nettie James
September 14, 2017

"The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates USA national security", it said.

In recent months concern has mounted inside the government about the potential for Kaspersky software to be used to gather information for the Russian secret services, officials said.

"The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalise on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates United States national security", Duke said on Wednesday. The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

Longstanding suspicions about the company grew in the United States when U.S. -Russia relations deteriorated following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and later when U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election using cyber means.

Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke gave government offices 90 days to begin to remove and replace the software.

According to the report, in newsletter The Bell, the firm may shutter its Kaspersky Government Security Solutions office as government agencies - who are among the world's biggest buyers of cybersecurity tools - are effectively banned from using its services.

At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in May, six of the US intelligence community's top officials all said they would not allow the use of Kaspersky software products in their systems.

Officials are also concerned about a Russian law that could compel the company to provide information.

Kaspersky Lab told The Washington Post Wednesday that it doesn't have improper ties with any government, including Russia's.

Shaheen has been working to pass a government-wide ban on Kaspersky software, which would effectively make the directive the law. However, it claimed this was because "U.S. government sales have not been a significant part of the company's activity in North America".

A former senior official at the company told NBC News that the company's US federal government business is small, but the reputational damage from a federal ban would be huge.

In July, the chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, told The Associated Press at his Moscow headquarters that USA government officials can examine his company's source code to dispel suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin.

The company's official response repeated the assertion that "Kaspersky Lab doesn't have inappropriate ties with any government" and added: "No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including the claims about Russian regulations and policies impacting the company".

The giant tech and appliance retailer Best Buy removed Kaspersky products from its shelves last week.

Other reports by Insurance News

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