Citing Russian Ties, Homeland Security Boots Kaspersky Software From Government Agencies

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Citing Russian Ties, Homeland Security Boots Kaspersky Software From Government Agencies

The Department of Homeland Security issued the order on September 13 following growing criticism in Congress and elsewhere about the Moscow-based company's software products, which are widely used in the United States and elsewhere.

The US government has officially banned the use of Kaspersky security software in all of its federal agencies.

"The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks", DHS said in a statement. A 2012 report from Bloomberg discussed founder Eugene Kaspersky's ties to the Russian FSB and his background in KGB-sponsored cryptography research.

The U.S. intelligence community has long assessed that Kaspersky has ties to the Russian government, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.

Now, the Department of Homeland Security is putting a halt to that and ordering all agencies to get rid of the software within 90 days.

The directive said Kaspersky's anti-virus products allow "broad access" to files and can be exploited by "malicious cyberactors" to compromise the systems.

The DHS is instructing departments and agencies to identify any use Kaspersky products on their information systems in the next 30 days and to develop detailed plans to remove the software in the next 60 days. Best Buy did not link its decision to US Senator Jeanne Shaheen's attempt to have Kaspersky banned on government computers, but didn't explain it either.

This is the first time the US government has taken action and the clearest signal that the claims are being taken seriously. "The company looks forward to working with DHS, as Kaspersky Lab ardently believes a deeper examination of the company will substantiate that these allegations are without merit".

In July, the chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, told The Associated Press at his Moscow headquarters that USA government officials can examine his company's source code to dispel suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin.

The decision by the Trump administration came as the U.S. Senate was planning to vote as soon as this week on a defense policy spending bill that includes language that would ban Kaspersky Lab products from being used by U.S. government agencies.

Kaspersky Lab, on the other hand, firmly denies the accusations, stating that it "doesn't have any inappropriate ties with any government" and that there's "no credible evidence" to back up the "false allegations".

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.

When the GSA announced its July decision, it underscored that its mission was to "ensure the integrity and security of US government systems and networks" and that Kaspersky was delisted "after review and careful consideration".

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