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US Government Orders All Departments To Remove Kaspersky Products

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

But Kaspersky Lab says the allegations are ‘completely unfounded’ and ‘no credible evidence has been presented’ for the ban

Growing pressure on Kaspersky Lab in the United States has exploded into the open, after the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ordered all government departments and agencies to remove the security software from their IT systems.

Kaspersky has fired back at the ‘completely unfounded allegations‘ and said that ‘no credible evidence has been presented’ and that the ‘accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions.’

The decision comes after months of increased pressure on the Moscow-based security firm, amid a toxic atmosphere in Washington DC over allegations the Trump administration had contact with Russian officials during the US Presidential election in 2016.

eugene kaspersky

Kaspersky in the US

The DHS this week issued the directive (DHS Binding Operational Directive 17-01) to federal agencies and ordered them to identify Kaspersky products on their IT systems within 30 days, and remove any Kaspersky products within 90 days.

According to Reuters, the order applies only to civilian government agencies and not the Pentagon, although Kaspersky products are already not allowed on military networks, after the US General Services Administration removed Kaspersky from an approved-vendors list in July.

In a statement, the DHS reportedly said it was “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.”

“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 US national security,” the DHS reportedly said.

It is understood that Kaspersky now has the opportunity to submit a written response to address the allegations. And the company wasted little time in responding to news of the US government ban.

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No Evidence

“Given that Kaspersky Lab doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, the company is disappointed with the decision by the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and we will use this opportunity to provide additional information to the agency in order to confirm that these allegations are completely unfounded,” said CEO Eugene Kaspersky.

“No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including the claims about Russian regulations and policies impacting the company.”

Kaspersky Lab did however say that it is grateful for the opportunity to provide additional information to the agency in order to confirm that these allegations are completely unfounded.

“Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organisations from cyberthreats, but it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russia,” the firm added.

“Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it’s disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent, due to geopolitical issues,” it said. “The company looks forward to working with DHS, as Kaspersky Lab ardently believes a deeper examination of the company will substantiate that these allegations are without merit.”

Growing Pressure

The US government ban comes ahead of a of a vote this week in the US Senate to prohibit use of Kaspersky products by the government.

In July Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky said he is willing to give American authorities access his company’s source code in an attempt to dispel rumours about ties to the Russian government.

But the pressure continued to ramp up and in August it was reported that the FBI had given private briefings to US companies urging them to stop using products from Kaspersky Lab.

The pressure has also led to a number of US retailers, including Best Buy, withdrawing its products from sale.

In the past the US government has similarly targeted Chinese companies such as Huawei and ZTE over alleged national security risks.

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