Citing ties to Russia, DHS bans Kaspersky products for government use

While Kaspersky has continuously denied any wrongdoing, the Department of Homeland Security is giving agencies just 90 days to remove all software from systems.
By Jessica Davis
10:29 AM
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Kaspersky banned by Homeland Security

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, NSA Director Admiral Michael Rogers, Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lt. General Vincent Stewart and Director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency Robert Cardillo testify before the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on May 11.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has banned the use of Kaspersky Labs software on all government agency systems due to its ties to Russia, the agency announced on Wednesday.

All government agencies have 90 days to remove Kaspersky products from all systems.

“[DHS] 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,” DHS officials said in a statement.

[Also: Kaspersky controversy: U.S. intelligence heads warn not to trust Russian security company; KGB-trained CEO stands by record]

“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,” the officials added.

In a statement provided to Healthcare IT News, officials said DHS officials are misinterpreting these laws, as the referenced Russian laws aren’t applicable to security companies like Kaspersky, but to telecom firms and ISPs.

The security firm has faced a growing number of rumors this year on whether the company could be persuaded into sharing information with the Russian government, although there has been no concrete evidence shared with the public to demonstrate any corroboration.

The concern over Russian ties has steadily increased as the government continues to find evidence of the Russian government meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

The company has vehemently denied each of these claims.

“Given that Kaspersky Lab doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, the company is disappointed with the decision by 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 said.

“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,” Kaspersky said.

Kaspersky has a track record of providing security software, which is currently deployed on about 400 million computers and can be found in 270,000 organizations across the globe. It also has a healthcare security division, with many U.S. hospital clients.

The company also works with other security firms and Europol, providing security intelligence on the threat landscape. Kaspersky has been heavily involved in providing free decryption tools for ransomware viruses.

In fact, the company said that 85 percent of its revenue is generated from outside of Russia.

Despite the lack of public evidence and Kaspersky’s continued denial of any wrongdoing, the government has been clear for months that it’s not comfortable with Kaspersky and its Russian ties.

At a May Senate hearing on Russian intelligence, a panel of six intelligence officers from varying U.S. agencies unanimously said they would not trust Kaspersky products on their personal devices.

“These ongoing accusations also ignore the fact that Kaspersky Lab has a 20-year history in the IT security industry of always abiding by the highest ethical business practices and trustworthy technology development,” Kaspersky said.

“Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it’s disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent, due to geopolitical issues,” Kaspersky said.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com