United States gov't bans use of cybersecurity products from Russian company Kaspersky

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Acting Department of Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke announced the ban of Kaspersky Lab software from federal government networks.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has directed federal agencies to end their use of Kaspersky software amid concerns over the company's ties to the Russian government, The Washington Post reports. The directive gives agencies 30 days to determine whether they are using any Kaspersky products.

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.

"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", the department said in a statement to The Washington Post.

At a Senate intelligence committee hearing in May, top USA officials were asked whether they would be comfortable with Kaspersky software on their computers.

Kaspersky has long denied that his company, one of Russia's most successful technology companies, has connections to Russian intelligence agencies. "This wasn't an easy action for the USA government to take, and it will also have significant ramifications for corporations that use Kaspersky", explained Hamerstone, who is the Practice Lead for the Governance, Risk, and Compliance division at security consultant TrustedSec.

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The directive suggests the US government puts some credence in reports that the popular antivirus company, and its founder Eugene Kaspersky, have close ties to Russian intelligence services. 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.

"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.

The action removed the company from the list of products approved for purchase on federal systems and at discounted prices for state governments.

The move comes ahead of a vote in the US Senate this week to prohibit use of the company's products by government.

Kaspersky said the company was happy to have an opportunity to provide information to show that the allegations are unfounded. "Kaspersky is a direct threat to national security".

It said it was not a telecoms provider and so not subject to the Russian laws Duke referred to on cooperation with the government.

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