Feds ban use of Kaspersky software

Under scrutiny, Kaspersky Lab considers changes to US subsidiary
US bans use of Kaspersky software in federal agencies amid concerns of Russian espionage
Author

13 September, 2017

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

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

The government list - known as a schedule - is maintained by the General Services Administration, and GSA "made the decision to remove Kaspersky Lab-manufactured products" after "review and careful consideration", a GSA spokeswoman said at the time.

"Given that USA government sales have not been a significant part of the company's activity in North America, Kaspersky Lab is exploring opportunities to better optimize the Washington D.C. office responsible for threat intelligence offerings to US government entities", a Kaspersky spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters. Though military and intelligence officials as well as members of Congress have gone on record expressing their concerns or doubts about the company, the government has yet to release or make public any evidence that would prove or suggest Kaspersky Lab products have been compromised by Russian intelligence agencies.

"Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyberthreats, but it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russian Federation", the firm said.

"The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks", DHS said in a statement. The U.S. intelligence community in January concluded Russian President Vladimir Putin had a direct hand in ordering a large-scale effort to interfere with the election in an attempt to get Trump elected. But the Defense Department, which includes the National Security Agency, does not generally use Kaspersky software, officials said.

The order applies only to civilian government networks, not the military's.

At the time, the company's CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, who attended a KGB-sponsored school, described the fears about the company's ties to the Kremlin as "total BS" and "unfounded conspiracy theories". It said there is no evidence for accusations by USA officials and lawmakers that its antivirus software may be used to provide espionage services to the Kremlin. Just a few days ago, Best Buy pulled Kaspersky's products from its shelves with claims that there were "too many unanswered questions" about the connections the company has with Russian intelligence services.

Richard Ledgett, former NSA deputy director, hailed the move.

The decision comes at a time when the USA government has jitters about Russian efforts to interfere with the U.S. presidential election.

Few agencies use Kaspersky products on a stand-alone basis, but they are embedded into computers, mobile devices and routers in wide use around the government and the private sector. Many had been left to speculate about the risks of sticking with the company or abandoning taxpayer-funded contracts, sometimes at great cost.


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