Published: Thu, September 14, 2017
Sci-tech | By Jackie Newman

Federal agencies ordered to stop using Kaspersky software

Federal agencies ordered to stop using Kaspersky software

Kaspersky is a computer anti-virus software that is also used at various federal agencies to protect sensitive government information.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a directive to agencies ordering them to identify Kaspersky products on their information systems within 30 days, develop plans to remove and discontinue the products within 60 days, and begin discontinuing their use within 90 days. The agencies have an unspecified timeline to rid their machines of the software, which DHS declared may pose a security risk.

Kaspersky Lab told The Washington Post Wednesday that it doesn't have improper ties with any government, including Russia's.

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In response to previous accusations, Kaspersky had pointed out that it "has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts".

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. Russian President Vladimir Putin hinted at such a move last week.

The order applies to all civilian government networks, but not the military, according to The Washington Post, which first reported the ban.

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"Regarding the Russian polices and laws being misinterpreted, the laws and tools in question are applicable to telecom companies and Internet Service Providers (ISPs), and contrary to the inaccurate reports, Kaspersky Lab is not subject to these laws or other government tools, including Russia's System of Operative-Investigative Measures (SORM), since the company doesn't provide communication services". The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

Officials are also concerned about a Russian law that could compel the company to provide information.

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

With Kaspersky booted from American federal networks, the Russian government may strike back at American firms. The action removed the company from the list of products approved for purchase on federal systems and at discounted prices for state governments.

The federal ban could lead to pressure on state and local governments to ditch Kaspersky products as well. Many had been left to speculate about the risks of sticking with the company or abandoning taxpayer-funded contracts, sometimes at great cost.

"No" was the reply given by then-acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, National Security Agency Director Adm. Mike Rogers, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Director Robert Cardillo and Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. Gen. Vincent Stewart.

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