Kaspersky Lab Challenges US Government Security Ban

Kaspersky Lab chief executive Eugene Kaspersky. Image credit: Kaspersky Lab security hacking

The DHS’ September order prohibited Kaspersky Lab’s products, including its popular antivirus, on civilian government networks

Kaspersky Lab has filed a legal challenge against an order issued by the US presidential administration banning its products from use by government agencies.

Moscow-based Kaspersky said it had filed an appeal against the ban in a US federal court under the Administrative Procedure Act, arguing the September order by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was unconstitutional as it violated the company’s right to due process.

The ban targeted civilian agencies, but Kaspersky’s products are generally not allowed on military networks, US intelligence bodies said earlier this year.

The appeal targets Binding Operational Directive 17-01, issued by the DHS in September, which gave US civilian government bodies 90 days to “remove and discontinue present and future use of (Kaspersky Lab) products”.

In the lawsuit, Kaspersky argues the US government mainly relied on unverified news media reports for evidence in formulating the order. It asks the court to overturn the ban and to declare Kaspersky Lab’s products do not pose a security threat to government systems.Eugene Kaspersky

Consumer sales affected

Kaspersky’s US government sales totalled less than $54,000 (£40,000), or about 0.03 percent of the sales of the company’s US subsidiary, according to the lawsuit.

But the company said the government’s ongoing efforts to portray Kaspersky’s antivirus products as a security threat had had an adverse effect on its much larger consumer business, with retailers such as Best Buy dropping the software from its shelves.

“DHS has harmed Kaspersky Lab’s reputation and its commercial operations without any evidence of wrongdoing by the company,” company founder Eugene Kaspersky said in an open letter to the DHS on Monday.

The DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kaspersky Lab said in October it would offer the source code of current and future versions of its products for independent review, but US officials have said such a step would not suffice to overturn their qualms. Kaspersky has repeatedly denied its tools could be used to pass information to the Russian authorities.

Earlier this month, GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) warned government departments not to use antivirus software with links to Russia – such as those of Kaspersky Lab – for systems related to national security.

Although not a government agency, Barclays decided to halt its offer of free Kaspersky protection to customers on receipt of the new advice.

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