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

14 September, 2017, 01:31 | Author: Kristen Ingram
  • An employee works near screens in the virus lab at the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow

This follows increasing scrutiny Kaspersky products have faced in recent months amid heightened concerns around potential Russian-borne cyber threats.

In a statement sent to eWEEK, Kaspersky Lab stated that it is not required to provide aid to the Russia government, unlike domestic Russian Internet service providers and telecommunication firms.

"The risk that the Russian government - whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky - could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products (in order) to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates US national security", the directive said.

In a statement provided to BuzzFeed News after the DHS announcement, Kaspersky said that it "has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it's disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent, due to geopolitical issues".

Agencies in the executive branch are expected to begin the process of discontinuing Kaspersky products within 90 days.

"Given that USA 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 US government entities", a Kaspersky spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters.

"In addition, more than 85 percent of its revenue comes from outside of Russian Federation, which further demonstrates that working inappropriately with any government would be detrimental to the company's bottom line".

"Given that our intelligence officials would not use Kaspersky Lab software, it is alarming that essential US government agencies do".

Indeed, the Department itself admitted that it didn't have any evidence of compromise. "This opportunity is also available to any other entity that claims its commercial interests will be directly impacted by the directive".

Kaspersky denies that it has allowed the Kremlin access to customer data, but American officials said on Wednesday that the decision to ban Kaspersky products from federal systems was based on the risk posed by the company and its inability to resist Kremlin directives. These ongoing accusations also ignore the fact that Kaspersky Lab has a 20-year history in the IT security industry of always abiding by the highest ethical business practices and trustworthy technology development. It has tried largely in vain to become a vendor to the US government, one of the world's biggest buyers of cyber tools.

"The reason all this drama is happening is because there were articles that came out indicating that Kaspersky had ties to the Russian government", said Dan Tentler, founder of Phobos Group. "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".

On Friday, after news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had reportedly urged American retailers to stop selling Kaspersky products, Best Buy became the first major American retailer to stop selling them.

"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.

Michael Borohovski, co-founder of Tinfoil Security, told Fox News that he wasn't surprised by the Department of Homeland Security's move.

Those offices, home to the Kaspersky Lab subsidiary KGSS that is dedicated to the US federal market, were empty when a Reuters reporter visited them in July.

"In fact, the GSA pulled Kaspersky from its list of pre-approved vendors back in July", he said, noting USA fears about potential cyber espionage.

Huawei, however, does sell phones in the US consumer market.

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