Kaspersky software banned from use in federal agencies

Saul Bowman
September 14, 2017

US Senator Amy Klobuchar called on Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Acting Secretary Elaine Duke to ensure that software made by Kaspersky Lab is not installed in any US election systems.

The US government has officially banned the use of Kaspersky security software in all of its federal agencies. Agencies will have 30 days to "identify any presence of Kaspersky products on their information systems", 60 days to develop plans to remove and discontinue use of the products, and 90 days to implement said plans.

"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", Duke said in a statement.

"This action is based on the information security risks presented by the use of Kaspersky products on federal information systems", claimed the Department in its order. For instance, Russian intelligence agencies can "compel assistance" from Russian companies to hand over information that passes through their networks.

At a Senate intelligence committee hearing in May, top USA officials were asked whether they would be comfortable with Kaspersky software on their computers.

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 General Services Administration removed Kaspersky from a list of pre-approved technology vendors in July, after press reports emerged linking the company to Russian intel.

"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. It also complained that it's being treated unfairly, and that it's never helped any government in cyberespionage.

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

The directive issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke comes as various USA law enforcement and intelligence agencies and several congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Kaspersky said it was disappointed by the decision but would attempt to prove that the allegations were unfounded.

Kaspersky said it is not subject to the Russian laws cited in the directive and said information received by the company is protected in accordance with legal requirements and stringent industry standards, including encryption.

On Friday, after news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had reportedly urged American retailers to stop selling Kaspersky products, Best Buy became the first major American retailer to stop selling them.

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