Trump admin bans Kaspersky software in federal agencies

Kaspersky Lab_Miner Botnets

Kaspersky Lab_Miner Botnets

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced in a binding directive issued Wednesday a total ban on the use of any products in the federal government engineered by AO Kaspersky Lab, a Russian-based company that develops antivirus software, among other things. But Kaspersky has attracted increased attention in the wake of Russia's interference in the USA presidential election.

The statement did not say whether the government has discovered evidence that Kaspersky products have compromised the security of federal networks.

"Given that US government sales have not been a significant part of the company's activity in North America, Kaspersky Lab is exploring opportunities to better optimize the Washington D.C. office responsible for threat intelligence offerings to USA government entities", a Kaspersky spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.

"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 US national security", it said.

Part of the problem with Kaspersky is certain company officials, according to DHS, have ties with Russian intelligence, which means it's possible Kaspersky could share sensitive information garnered from federal networks with the Russian government.

DHS will also be offering Kaspersky Labs the opportunity to submit a written response to the concerns raised by the directive to provide any evidence, materials, or data that may be relevant. To combat this, CEO Eugene Kaspersky offered to turn over product source code to the USA government for examination in July, saying that he would do anything "to prove that we don't behave maliciously".

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 decision by the Trump administration comes as the US Senate was planning to vote as soon as this week on a defense policy spending bill that includes language that would ban Kaspersky Lab products from being used by US government agencies.

"The only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab, a private company, is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, and it's being treated unfairly even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts", the company said.

Company founder and chief executive Eugene Kaspersky said he has repeatedly offered to present the company's source code to United States officials for an audit, but has not been given the opportunity to do so.

This follows increasing scrutiny Kaspersky products have faced in recent months amid heightened concerns around potential Russian-borne cyber threats. The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), who been asking for action to be taken against Kaspersky for some time, praised the move.

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