President Trump orders government purge of Kaspersky security products

Thursday, 14 Sep, 2017

The U.S. on Wednesday banned federal agencies from using computer software supplied by Kaspersky Lab because of concerns about the company's ties to the Kremlin and Russian spy operations.

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 Department of Homeland Security says the risk is that the Russian government, acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could use computer access to compromise USA government systems.

"The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies", Duke said in a statement. "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 USA national security", it added.

"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 U.S. Senate is voting 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.

President Trump's administration has today ordered the removal of all Kaspersky security products from USA government IT systems, citing claims that the company is vulnerable to influence from the Russian government.

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Speaking Wednesday on the sidelines of the Billington CyberSecurity Summit in Washington, he noted that Kaspersky, like other Russian companies, is "bound to comply with the directive of Russian state security services, by law, to share with them information from their servers".

The statement goes on to say that "North America remains a strategic market for Kaspersky Lab".

Concerns about Kaspersky software had been brewing for years, according to one former official who told The Post that some congressional staffers were warned by federal law enforcement officials as early as November 2015 not to meet with employees from Kaspersky, over concerns about electronic surveillance. 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.

Founder and chief executive Eugene Kaspersky said he has repeatedly offered to present the company's source code to USA officials for an audit, but has not been given the opportunity to do so.

With Kaspersky booted from American federal networks, the Russian government may strike back at American firms.

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