DHS bans Kaspersky from federal systems

Elias Hubbard
September 13, 2017

Citing concerns that the anti-virus, malware protection, and other software Kaspersky Labs offers has "elevated privileges" on government computers, the DHS says that its new directive is based on fears that the company's Russian base might leave American data exposed.

Kaspersky Lab paid former national security adviser Michael Flynn $11,250 in 2015 for cyber-security consulting, according to public documents, but that was not a focus of the Federal Bureau of Investigation questioning, multiple sources said.

Kaspersky Lab responded in a statement today, saying, "Given that Kaspersky Lab doesn't have inappropriate ties with any government, the company is disappointed with the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but also is grateful for the opportunity to provide additional information to the agency in order to confirm that these allegations are completely unfounded".

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke released a binding operational directive on September 13 requiring agencies to identify and plan to remove all Kaspersky Lab products within the next 90 days.

"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.

"Kaspersky Lab has good relationships and regularly helps law enforcement agencies all over the world fight cybercrime, and we hope the USA will also consider learning more about us, and who we truly are, versus the rhetoric and false assumptions", wrote Kaspersky. But the Defense Department, which includes the National Security Agency, does not generally use Kaspersky software, officials said.

It will take some time to stop the government from using Kaspersky products. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is pushing legislation to prohibit the federal government from using products made by Kaspersky Lab, which she said has "extensive ties to Russian intelligence". In May, top intelligence officials testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee that they would not be comfortable with Kaspersky software on their computers.

Kaspersky Lab told The Washington Post Wednesday that it doesn't have improper ties with any government, including Russia's. A 2012 report from Bloomberg discussed founder Eugene Kaspersky's ties to the Russian FSB and his background in KGB-sponsored cryptography research.

US officials have yet to publicly present any evidence indicating concerning links between Kaspersky Lab employees and elements of the Russian government.

"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.

It also afforded "an opportunity for Kaspersky to submit a written response addressing the department's concerns or to mitigate those concerns".

Kaspersky in an emailed statement denied "inappropriate ties with any government" and criticized the USA decision as "based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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