Friday, 24 November, 2017

U.S. bans government use of software from Russian firm Kaspersky

Kaspersky Labs software is currently used by around six federal agencies. They have three months to remove Kaspersky Labs software is currently used by around six federal agencies. They have three months to remove
Jeanne Townsend | 14 September, 2017, 00:46

USA federal agencies are being told to stop using computer software supplied by Kaspersky Lab because of concerns about ties between company officials and the Kremlin and Russian spy operations.

The Department of Homeland Security issued the order on September 13 following growing criticism in Congress and elsewhere about the Moscow-based company's software products, which are widely used in the United States and elsewhere.

Duke directed all USA federal agencies and departments to stop using products or services supplied directly or indirectly by the Russian-owned and operated company.

This follows increasing scrutiny Kaspersky products have faced in recent months amid heightened concerns around potential Russian-borne cyber threats.

"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 U.S. national security", a DHS statement issued Wednesday reads. The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence. Citing concerns that the anti-virus, malware protection, and other software Kaspersky Labs offers has "elevated privileges" on government computers, the DHS says that its new directive is based on fears that the company's Russian base might leave American data exposed. Any US government agency using Kaspersky products needs to identify them within the next 30 days, the DHS instructs, and then come up with a plan to remove them completely in the next 60 days.

Kaspersky said the company was happy to have an opportunity to provide information to show that the allegations are unfounded.

It said it was not a telecoms provider and so not subject to the Russian laws Duke referred to on cooperation with the government.

Eugene Kaspersky
Eugene Kaspersky Credit TASS via Getty Images

In a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday, the company said: "Kaspersky Lab doesn't have inappropriate ties with any government, which is why no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization to back up the false allegations made against the company".

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H, has been pushing to prohibit the federal government from using the firm's products.

US officials have been wary of Kaspersky Lab's ties to the Russian government and state-sponsored cyberespionage-a concern that has only ramped up in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, which Russia appear to interfere with.

The move comes ahead of a vote in the US Senate this week to prohibit use of the company's products by government.

Earlier this year, the federal General Services Administration-the agency in charge of government purchasing-removed Kaspersky Lab from its list of approved vendors.

"No" was the reply given by then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

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