US gov't orders removal of Kaspersky IT products, cites Russia

Casey Dawson
September 14, 2017

The Department of Homeland Security gave federal offices 90 days to eliminate any software manufactured by Kaspersky Lab from their information systems.

Federal government organizations are prohibited from utilizing programming created by Kaspersky Lab, a Russian firm with claimed connects to that nation's insight offices, acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke said in an announcement Wednesday.

Kaspersky Lab has repeatedly denied that it has ties to the Kremlin.

David Kennedy, founder of Cleveland-based TrustedSec, told BuzzFeed News, that there has "never" been any evidence presented publicly that Kaspersky has direct ties to the Russian government, though he said some evidence might have been presented in private. "The company looks forward to working with DHS, as Kaspersky Lab ardently believes a deeper examination of the company will substantiate that these allegations are without merit". "I trust the national security staff to make these decisions on actual threats". A spokesperson for Target said that "we now carry Kaspersky products in Target stores and are reviewing this, given today's news". "If they want to provide additional information or mitigation strategies, our door is open".

American officials have not presented any concrete evidence that Kaspersky has allowed the Kremlin to use its products to advance its intelligence operations.

Senator Shaheen argued for the ban on grounds that Kaspersky products chat to servers in Russian Federation, which she characterises as a "hostile country". Many had been left to speculate about the risks of sticking with the company or abandoning taxpayer-funded contracts, sometimes at great cost. The software is not widely used in the Defense Department and the military.

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Eugene Kaspersky, the company's co-founder and chief executive, attended a KGB school, and the company has acknowledged doing work for the Russian intelligence agency known as the FSB.

Rob Joyce, the White House cybersecurity coordinator and a former NSA official, hailed the move. "What's more, on the off chance that you will acquire equipment and programming in such amounts, at that point in specific zones the state will unavoidably say to you: 'You know, we can't purchase that, since some place a catch will be squeezed and here everything will go down'".

Concerns about Kaspersky software had been brewing for years. According to the company, American officials have misinterpreted Russian law.

Kaspersky Lab, the Russian-based multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider has expressed confidence that "further investigations" will show that all accusations concerning its alleged links to Russian state agencies are "baseless". 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. In a New York Times column earlier this month, Shaheen warned that the company poses a danger to USA security.

It will take some time to stop the government from using Kaspersky products.

The DHS is instructing departments and agencies to identify any use Kaspersky products on their information systems in the next 30 days and to develop detailed plans to remove the software in the next 60 days. At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing in May, the chiefs of six major US spy agencies all said they would not use Kaspersky software on their computers.

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