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DHS Bans Use of Kaspersky Lab Software in US Government

14 September 2017

"Given that Kaspersky Lab doesn't have inappropriate ties with any government, the company is disappointed with the decision by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), but also is grateful for the opportunity to provide additional information to the agency in order to confirm that these allegations are completely unfounded".

"Kaspersky anti-virus products and solutions provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed, which can be exploited by malicious cyber actors to compromise those information systems".

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.

Earlier Wednesday, the DHS issued a Binding Operational Directive (BOD) calling on the United States departments and agencies to identify and "to develop detailed plans to remove and discontinue present and future use of the products" supplied by Kaspersky Lab within 90 days.

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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. By banning Kaspersky, U.S. officials have struck a blow to the business goals at one of Russia's most successful global companies and may expose American firms to retaliation from Moscow.

An employee walks by a wall at the Moscow headquarters of Internet security giant Kaspersky Lab last October.

"Given that USA government sales have not been a significant part of the company's activity in North America, Kaspersky Lab is exploring opportunities to better optimize the Washington D.C. office responsible for threat intelligence offerings to US government entities", the company says in a statement.

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.

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Earlier this week, retailer Best Buy said it would stop selling Kaspersky software for the time being. In a New York Times column earlier this month, Shaheen warned that the company poses a danger to US security.

At the end of its full statement on the issue, available here, DHS states that it will allow Kaspersky and "any other entity that claims its commercial interests will be directly impacted" to submit a written argument along with any evidence or data that could offset the usa government's concerns.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., who has been voicing concern about Kaspersky for months, said the directive was a positive step. During a Senate hearing on Russian election interference in March, former NSA director Keith Alexander said he wouldn't trust Kaspersky products on his own computer and suggested that others shouldn't use it either.

The federal ban could lead to pressure on state and local governments to ditch Kaspersky products as well.

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In a statement sent to Fox News, Kaspersky Lab denied any involvement with the Russian government. It has tried largely in vain to become a vendor to the US government, one of the world's biggest buyers of cyber tools.

DHS Bans Use of Kaspersky Lab Software in US Government