The U.S. government has ordered all U.S. federal agencies to phase out use of Kaspersky Lab software products, citing "ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies".
The Department claims that the Russian government could compel Kaspersky to compromise its own products on behalf of Russian intelligence, although there is no evidence either of such a request or of Kaspersky software being mis-used in this or any other way.
"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", the company says in a statement. Any US government agency using Kaspersky products needs to identify them within the next 30 days, the DHS instructs, and then come up with a plan to remove them completely in the next 60 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 U.S. government entities", the company said in a statement. Last week, Best Buy Co (BBY.N), the No.1 United States electronics retailer, said it was pulling Kaspersky Lab's cyber security products from its shelves and website. In doing so, the GSA suggested a vulnerability exists with Kaspersky that could give the Kremlin backdoor access to the systems the company protects.
McClatchy reported in July that documents it viewed appeared to show a link between Kaspersky and the Russian Security Service, the spy agency known as the FSB. "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'".More news: How much rain will Hurricane Irma send our way?
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At a Senate intelligence committee hearing in May, top USA officials were asked whether they would be comfortable with Kaspersky software on their computers. "The company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole goal of fighting cybercrime". The concerns mounted in recent months, and DHS officials saw an opportunity to take action.
Best Buy announced last week it would stop selling Kaspersky products over concerns about the company's Russian government ties. However, it claimed this was because "U.S. government sales have not been a significant part of the company's activity in North America".
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Rules Committee, sent a letter to Duke asking the department for information about the government's use of Kaspersky products, especially on critical infrastructure and election systems. She has proposed amendments to the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that would ban the use of Kaspersky products at the Defense Department and across the government.
DHS stressed that its concerns about Kaspersky Lab are related to the access that the company's products have to sensitive systems, which could allow-either knowingly or unwittingly-Russian intelligence services to gain access to vital government information and operations. "The U.S. government has been looking at Kaspersky for years, so this announcement is no real surprise to anyone".