DHS bans Kaspersky on federal PCs over Russian Federation fears

DHS orders departments & agencies to remove Kaspersky products over 'Russian intelligence ties'

The Trump administration on Wednesday told U.S. government agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab products from their networks, saying it was concerned the Moscow-based cyber security firm was vulnerable to Kremlin influence and that using its anti-virus software could jeopardize national security. "Public contracting reports show that Kaspersky Lab software has been used by the Department of Justice, the Treasury Department, the Department of State and several other agencies".

The U.S. intelligence community has long assessed that Kaspersky has ties to the Russian government.

At least a half-dozen federal agencies run Kaspersky on their networks, the US officials said, although there may be other networks where an agency's chief information security officer - the official ultimately responsible for systems security - might not be aware it is being used.

Under the directive, all federal departments and agencies will have 30 days to identify Kaspersky products used on their information systems, 60 days to develop detailed plans to remove them, and then begin discontinuing their use within 90 days.

The directive provides Kaspersky an opportunity to respond or mitigate the department's concerns.

Earlier this year six top intelligence and security officials told a Congressional hearing that they would not use Kaspersky software. She called the company's ties with the Kremlin "alarming".

But two months ago the news website Bloomberg reported it had seen emails between chief executive Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, outlining a secret cyber-security project apparently requested by the Russian intelligence service FSB.

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Some cyber security experts have warned that blacklisting Kaspersky Lab could prompt a retaliation from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Vendors have survived this sort of thing before: Huawei remains forbidden from selling to the USA and Australian governments, but its consumer handset business is doing very well in both markets and its enterprise business is a contender in many industries. According to the company, American officials have misinterpreted Russian law.

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

In a statement sent to eWEEK, Kaspersky Lab stated that it is not required to provide aid to the Russia government, unlike domestic Russian Internet service providers and telecommunication firms.

"In addition, business and government users may choose to install a local and private KSN center on their premises to make sure the data never leaves their facility", the company highlighted. A draft version of the Senate's National Defense Authorization Act has banned the Department of Defense from using it as well, though The Washington Post notes that the Defense Department doesn't generally use it anyway.

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.

Those offices, home to the Kaspersky Lab subsidiary KGSS that is dedicated to the US federal market, were empty when a Reuters reporter visited them in July.

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