Kaspersky Banned: Federal Agencies Ditch Russian Cybersecurity Firm Over Spying Concerns

The Department of Homeland Security has ordered federal agencies to stop using software made by Kaspersky Lab over concerns about the company's ties to Russian intelligence, DHS announced Wednesday.

The Department of Homeland Security has instructed federal agencies and departments to stop using products from Moscow-based cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab.

"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 USA national security", Duke said.

"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.

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At least a half-dozen federal agencies run Kaspersky on their networks, the US 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.

The statement goes on to say that "North America remains a strategic market for Kaspersky Lab". "No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company", the spokesperson said.

The federal ban could lead to pressure on state and local governments to ditch Kaspersky products as well. In a New York Times column earlier this month, Shaheen warned that the company poses a danger to USA security.

The directive provides Kaspersky an opportunity to respond or mitigate the department's concerns. He denies all charges of Russian government influence in his computer security products. A couple weeks ago, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space and Technology asked 22 government agencies to share documents about their dealings with the firm. "Many of those companies will now feel compelled to go through their systems and remove this antivirus program, as well as conduct a risk assessment".

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"Kaspersky Lab and Best Buy have suspended their relationship at this time; however, the relationship may be re-evaluated in the future", the two said in a joint statement.

Kaspersky Lab has laughed off attempts to have its wares banned from USA government computers by saying it hardly sold to the Feds anyway. It was already cut from the short list of approved IT vendors for the USA government back in July but has now been officially banned from use in all federal agencies.

Vendors have survived this sort of thing before: Huawei remains forbidden from selling to the United States and Australian governments, but its consumer handset business is doing very well in both markets and its enterprise business is a contender in many industries.

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  • Ryan Wade