Published: Wed, September 13, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

Feds ban use of Kaspersky software

Feds ban use of Kaspersky software

"Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and founder of Kaspersky Lab, has repeatedly offered to meet with government officials, testify before the U.S. Congress and provide the company's source code for an official audit to help address any questions the U.S. government has about the company", the company said in a statement earlier this month.

But Shaheen, a key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said assessments underlying USA officials' concerns are classified, and "it is unacceptable to ignore questions about Kaspersky Lab because the answers are shielded in classified materials".

The move comes amid several federal investigations into whether the Russian government attempted to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election.

USA authorities also believe that "certain Kaspersky officials" could have ties with Russian intelligence and other government agencies, providing an opportunity for U.S. security to be "compromised".

The US Department of Homeland Security has directed US federal departments and agencies to discontinue use of Kaspersky products within the next 90 days, the agency said in a press release on Wednesday.

The company concluded that it was "caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight" and is being "treated unfairly even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts".

Kaspersky highlighted that more than 85% of its revenue comes from outside Russian Federation, so it would be detrimental to its bottom line to work inappropriately with any government.

Eugene Kaspersky the CEO and cofounder of Kaspersky Labs.       Shannon Stapleton  Reuters
Eugene Kaspersky the CEO and cofounder of Kaspersky Labs. Shannon Stapleton Reuters

"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", the directive said. He blamed the government's actions on geopolitical hysteria stemming from allegations that Russian-backed groups meddled in the US 2016 presidential election via social media and other communications platforms, and via attempts to hack voting infrastructure.

The order applies only to civilian government networks, not the military's. But the Defense Department, which includes the National Security Agency, does not generally use Kaspersky software, officials said. It said there is no evidence for accusations by United States officials and lawmakers that its antivirus software may be used to provide espionage services to the Kremlin.

Kaspersky Lab founder Eugene Kaspersky has denied allegations that his company is conducting espionage on behalf of Russian Federation and said the USA government lacks evidence to justify the move.

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

The Moscow Times reported that Kaspersky Lab's vice president for public affairs, Anton Shingarev, told The Bell that "a reorganization is planned" at the office.

USA officials have yet to publicly present any evidence indicating concerning links between Kaspersky Lab employees and elements of the Russian government. 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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