Kaspersky software banned at United States federal agencies amid concerns of Kremlin ties

Kaspersky Lab

The Department claims that the Russian government could compel Kaspersky to compromise its own products on behalf of Russian intelligence, although there is no evidence either of such a request or of Kaspersky software being mis-used in this or any other way.

"Expanding the company's presence in the region will better enable Kaspersky Lab to provide its customers with the best cybersecurity solutions and services", the statement said. In doing so, the GSA suggested a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Kremlin backdoor access to the systems the company protects. The action removed the company from the list of products approved for purchase on federal systems and at discounted prices for state governments.

Issuing a binding operational directive, DHS instructed all federal agencies to identify the Kaspersky products in use on government systems within the next 30 days, and to be prepared to remove those products within 90 days.

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".

In response to previous accusations, Kaspersky had pointed out that it "has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts". His critics say it's unlikely that his company could operate independently in Russian Federation, where the economy is dominated by state-owned companies and the power of spy agencies has expanded dramatically under President Vladimir Putin.

Earlier this year six top intelligence and security officials told a Congressional hearing that they would not use Kaspersky software.

"The truth is we don't know if Kaspersky has direct ties", he said.

Democrats on Capitol Hill applauded the decision.

At least a half-dozen federal agencies run Kaspersky on their networks, the USA officials said, although there may be other networks where an agency's chief information security officer - the official ultimately responsible for systems security - might not be aware it is being used. "Public contracting reports show that Kaspersky Lab software has been used by the Department of Justice, the Treasury Department, the Department of State and several other agencies".

Kaspersky Lab has laughed off attempts to have its wares banned from U.S. government computers by saying it hardly sold to the Feds anyway. Best Buy did not link its decision to US Senator Jeanne Shaheen's attempt to have Kaspersky banned on government computers, but didn't explain it either. A draft version of the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act has banned the Department of Defense from using it as well, though The Washington Post notes that the Defense Department doesn't generally use it anyway.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that since the election, questions have intensified about federal information networks use of the Russian company's software.

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