Thursday, 21 September, 2017

USA bans government use of software from Russian firm Kaspersky

Under scrutiny, Kaspersky Lab considers changes to US subsidiary US bans use of Kaspersky software in federal agencies amid concerns of Russian espionage
Christy Curtis | 14 September, 2017, 01:39

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has directed federal agencies to end their use of Kaspersky software amid concerns over the company's ties to the Russian government, The Washington Post reports.

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.

"Under Russian law that company must collaborate with the FSB", Rob Joyce, Trump's top cyber adviser, said during remarks at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

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

"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", the DHS said.

The Department of Homeland Security has banned the use of Russian-made antivirus software across all federal computer networks.

At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in May, six of the US intelligence community's top officials all said they would not allow the use of Kaspersky software products in their systems. In response to questioning from Reuters, a spokesperson said: "As we evaluated the technology, we decided it was a risk we couldn't accept".

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

Kaspersky said the company was happy to have an opportunity to provide information to show that the allegations are unfounded. "For us in the government that was can unacceptable risk". The company says it is expanding its North American presence-though well away from D.C.

Concerns about Kaspersky software had been brewing for years, according to one former official who told The Post that some congressional staffers were warned by federal law enforcement officials as early as November 2015 not to meet with employees from Kaspersky, over concerns about electronic surveillance. It also pointed out that government and business users have the option to opt-out of sending data to the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN).

Kaspersky has also attracted attention on Capitol Hill. On Wednesday, she applauded the DHS for "heeding" her call, labeling Kaspersky a "direct threat to national security".

Kaspersky has more than 400 million customers worldwide, but it has never succeeded in becoming a major supplier to the United States government.

The company's cyber-security software is widely used in the United States, and its billionaire owner, Eugene Kaspersky, has close ties to some Russian intelligence figures, according to USA officials.

The directive will also put pressure on state and local governments that use Kaspersky's products.

"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 company said.

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