At the end of August, U.S. intelligence agencies launched a massive probe into the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky. The software company has been long suspected of being linked to the Russian government and espionage.
22 U.S. government agencies, that have worked with Kaspersky in the past, were requested to share documents with the U.S. congressional panel.
Then this week, the U.S. government officially banned the use of all Kaspersky software products in federal departments. All agencies will have to identity the Kaspersky products that have been used in the last 30 days and will have to discontinue their use.
“This action is based on the information security risks presented by the use of Kaspersky products. The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks,” said the Department of Homeland Security in a statement on Wednesday. “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 U.S. national security.”
Kaspersky has again denied having “inappropriate ties with any government.”
“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,” said Kaspersky in a statement to The Hill. “No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company.”
But in July, documents were found linking the software firm to a Russian spy agency.
“The documents are certifications issued to the company by the Russian Security Service, the spy agency known as the FSB,” writes the Chicago Tribune. “Unlike the stamped approvals the FSB routinely issues to companies seeking to operate in Russia, Kaspersky’s include an unusual feature: a military intelligence unit number matching that of an FSB program.”
Afterwards, the heads of five U.S. intelligence agencies have all agreed that they wouldn’t feel comfortable using Kaspersky products on their agency’s networks.
The Trump administration believes banning the firm’s products is a “risk-based decision” that the government needs to make.
“For us, the idea of a piece of software that’s able to live on our networks and touch every file on those networks, going to be able to, at the discretion of the company, decide what goes back to their cloud in Russia, and then what you really need to understand is under Russian law, the company must collaborate with the FSB,” said Rob Joyce, Trump’s cybersecurity coordinator. “For us in the government, it was an unacceptable risk.”
Russian Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov has threaten to retaliate by banning the use of U.S. software and products in the event that U.S. government agencies would ban to use of Kaspersky’s software. We will have see if he actually follows through with this threat.
Author’s note: This move just proves that Trump is a man of action. It’s too bad Obama wasn’t paying attention and potentially let U.S. intel leak to Russian spies. Obama should have done this a while ago, but he has a history of letting intel be leaked. Who could forget Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, which was another Obama security failure.