United Kingdom government bans all Russian anti-virus software from Secret-rated systems

The chief executive of Kaspersky Lab Eugene Kaspersky has strongly denied allegations about the safety of its products or ties to the Russian government. Ian Gavan  Getty Images

The chief executive of Kaspersky Lab Eugene Kaspersky has strongly denied allegations about the safety of its products or ties to the Russian government. Ian Gavan Getty Images

Reuters report s that UK's National Cyber Security Centre chief Ciaran Martin sent a memo to other government departments warning them that as Russia is "a highly capable cyber threat actor which uses cyber as a tool of statecraft", that has the intent to target the United Kingdom and its critical infrastructure, computers with info that could harm national security shouldn't use an anti-virus software developed by a Russian company.

On Friday, the UK's National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) issued a new guidance for how the country's various ministries should closely manage their use of antivirus software supplied by a foreign nation, such as Russia's Kaspersky Lab.

Checks are being developed to prevent the "transfer of UK data to the Russian state" involving key tech players in the UK, Mr Martin said, according to The Mirror.

He said: "The NCSC advises that Russian Federation is a highly capable cyber threat actor which uses cyber as a tool of statecraft".

The letter added that the National Cyber Security Centre is "in discussions with Kaspersky Lab ... about whether we can develop a framework that we and others can independently verify, which would give the Government assurance about the security of their involvement in the wider United Kingdom market".

Mr Martin also said Russian hackers may have targeted the United Kingdom energy network, telecoms and the media this year.

"In drawing this guidance to (department heads") attention today, it is our aim to enable departments to make informed, risk-based decisions on (their) choice of AV provider.

"However, the overwhelming majority of United Kingdom individuals and organisations are not being actively targeted by the Russian state, and are far more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals. As stated in the company's Global Transparency Initiative announcement, Kaspersky Lab continues to partner with its stakeholders globally, including governments, as part of its ongoing commitment to protect customers from cyber threats".

The head of the National Cyber Security Center, Ciaran Martin, said in a letter dated December 1 that "Russia is acting against the U.K.'s national interest in cyberspace".

The guidance quickly caused other problems for Kaspersky's United Kingdom outfit, as British banking giant Barclays has written to customers to advise it's discontinuing an offer of free Kaspersky software for users of its online banking services.

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