Trump admin tells government agencies to drop Kaspersky products

DHS orders departments & agencies to remove Kaspersky products over 'Russian intelligence ties'

The Trump administration on Wednesday told USA government agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab products from their information systems, saying it was concerned the Moscow-based cyber security firm was vulnerable to Kremlin influence. He blamed the government's actions on geopolitical hysteria stemming from allegations that Russian-backed groups meddled in the USA 2016 presidential election via social media and other communications platforms, and via attempts to hack voting infrastructure.

"This action is based on the information security risks presented by the use of Kaspersky products on federal information systems", the DHS said in a statement.

US officials have been wary of Kaspersky Lab's ties to the Russian government and state-sponsored cyberespionage-a concern that has only ramped up in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, which Russia appear to interfere with.

According to a DHS, Kaspersky Lab antivirus products provide broad access to federal information systems and could potentially be used by "malicious cyber actors" to gain access.

Part of the problem with Kaspersky is certain company officials, according to DHS, have ties with Russian intelligence, which means it's possible Kaspersky could share sensitive information garnered from federal networks with the Russian government.

The company concluded that it was "caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight" and is being "treated unfairly even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts".

The move comes amid several federal investigations into whether the Russian government attempted to meddle in the 2016 USA presidential election.

Kaspersky was already finding the government shut to its business, according to USA companies it competes with.

"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", the firm said.

Based in Moscow, Kaspersky has been selling its popular and highly regarded software around the world for two decades and does 85 percent of its business outside of Russian Federation, including with multiple governments, according to the company.

Company 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.

Best Buy announced last week it would stop selling Kaspersky products over concerns about the company's Russian government ties. The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

Richard Ledgett, former NSA deputy director, hailed the move. It also pointed out that government and business users have the option to opt-out of sending data to the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN).

Few agencies use Kaspersky products on a stand-alone basis, but they are embedded into computers, mobile devices and routers in wide use around the government and the private sector.

Senator Shaheen argued for the ban on grounds that Kaspersky products chat to servers in Russian Federation, which she characterises as a "hostile country". Many had been left to speculate about the risks of sticking with the company or abandoning taxpayer-funded contracts, sometimes at great cost. "Kaspersky is a direct threat to national security", Shaheen tweeted after the announcement.

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