Russia's Kaspersky To Dial Down Government Services In US

Russia's Kaspersky To Dial Down Government Services In US

Kenneth Drake
September 14, 2017

The binding directive issued by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke ordered federal departments to identify any use or presence of Kaspersky products on their information systems in the next 30 days and to implement plans to remove them within 90 days, DHS 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".

"We believe that everyone has the right to be free of cybersecurity fears", the CEO said on the company's website.

Just a few days ago, Best Buy pulled Kaspersky's products from its shelves with claims that there were "too many unanswered questions" about the connections the company has with Russian intelligence services.

The move comes amid heightened strains between Russian Federation and the U.S. over Moscow's alleged interference in last year's United States presidential election.

In recent months concern has mounted inside the government about the potential for Kaspersky software to be used to gather information for the Russian secret services, officials said.

Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyberthreats, but it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russian Federation.

Meanwhile, unnamed sources told Russian news agency The Bell, that Kaspersky's Washington, D.C., branch, Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc, is considering closing its offices there because the US government has prohibited affiliation.

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It will take some time to stop the government from using Kaspersky products.

A Kaspersky spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

Richard Ledgett, former NSA deputy director, hailed the move.

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 says the reports are based on Russian policies and laws that have been misinterpreted, since they apply to telecoms and ISPs, not Kaspersky.

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

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H, has been pushing to prohibit the federal government from using the firm's products. Many had been left to speculate about the risks of sticking with the company or abandoning taxpayer-funded contracts, sometimes at great cost.

"The truth is we don't know if Kaspersky has direct ties", he said.