Kaspersky software banned at U.S. federal agencies amid concerns of Kremlin ties

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has directed federal agencies to end their use of Kaspersky software amid concerns over the company's ties to the Russian government, The Washington Post reports. Agencies will have 30 days to "identify any presence of Kaspersky products on their information systems," 60 days to develop plans to remove and discontinue use of the products, and 90 days to implement said plans.

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This follows increasing scrutiny Kaspersky products have faced in recent months amid heightened concerns around potential Russian-borne cyber threats. The DHS directive states:

This action is based on information security risks presented by the use of Kaspersky Products on federal information systems. Kaspersky anti-virus products and solutions provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed, which can be exploited by malicious cyber actors to compromise those information systems. The Department is concerned about the ties between 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 U.S. national security.

For its part, Kaspersky has denied any nefarious ties to the Russian government, but a Bloomberg report from July alleged that the Moscow-based cybersecurity firm had been working with Russian intelligence. In recent months, U.S. government officials have also drafted legislation that would ban Kaspersky software on government machines. The uncertainty surrounding Kaspersky products also caused Best Buy to pull its software from shelves this past week.

DHS says that Kaspersky will have an opportunity to submit a written response to address or attempt to mitigate the department's concerns.

Dan Thorp-Lancaster

Dan Thorp-Lancaster is the former Editor-in-Chief of Windows Central. He began working with Windows Central, Android Central, and iMore as a news writer in 2014 and is obsessed with tech of all sorts. You can follow Dan on Twitter @DthorpL and Instagram @heyitsdtl

  • I have to say, considering all the news in recent years about US authorities trying to legally force companies to open their data up for government access this has a whiff of hypocrisy about it. I hope this means the US authorities will think more carefully about their own approach to data privacy in future.
  • Well clearly it's different when you're spying on your own citizens vs another country doing it  /s
  • Doesn't seem to me like US was limiting their data grabs to anywhere in particular.
  • Makes sense to me.  Even if it is hypocritical, it's naive to just let Russia have access to sensitive systems, and obviously Kaspersky is going to roll over and let Putin have his way.  But I stopped using Kaspersky years ago.  Main reason was that as soon as my license expired, it basically crippled my PC.  I made the mistake of renewing it once, foolishly thinking that viruses I was no longer protected from where slowing me down.  But when it did the same thing the following year, I removed as much of it as I could find from my system, and my PC ran just fine again.  Basically felt like they were tricking people into renewing, like a Russian mob protection racket!  My ISP gives out McAfee included in my bill (nothing's truly free), and I haven't noticed any issues with it.
  • Russia's next *** for tat move = Abandon Windows OS with the cia backdoor access!
  • Actually Russia is already seeking to ban WIndows 10 and many other American software products from either government PCs and/or  the country in general. 
  • Didn't they already get rid of their Windows systems earlier this year?
  • They announced it but I don't think they went through implementation...
  • I suppose that's fair. I have a Kaspersky I.S. license for the next 6 months or so, but I'd probably just let it lapse and go to Windows Defender (unless I could find it cheap again), but obviously the government has its prerogative and a wealth of concerns I don't. Hell, my visiting family from Taiwan stopped buying U.S. plans for their phones during their trips after the first round of embarrassing NSA "wiretapping" scandals a few years back--translated from Chinese, their words were roughly "Unless you want Obama to hear every one of your conversations, just talk to one another in person," heh.
  • This should never have been a thing to begin with. We don't ask Russian companies to build systems for the military either, for obvious reasons. Anything federal and national security should be in house or from close allies, it's not like there weren't options. And to be fair to kaspersky as a company. If they are legit not working with Moscow it should be proven so they don't lose massive contracts because of rumors. Doesn't change the us govt action though, as I stated shouldn't be a thing.
  • I never used Kaspersky even a decade ago for this reason. Funny the US Govt ever did. Idiots. Russian hacking is not new.
  • What- they don't like being spied on?
  • Kaspersky offered to submit the source code for independant analysis to prove there are no back doors in their anti-virus product. But that's only half the story. What about the virus/malware signatures it purposely DOESN'T include? That's the problem.
  • So Kaspersky is being basically politically persecuted for allegedly being capable of malpractice simply because they are Russian. Not political censorship and not authoritarian at all. I wonder if anyone did the same thing to Facebook for trying to be Google and cram as much as possible into the network... would it also be okay. Banning Facebook for being American is stupid. Pretending that Kaspersky is suspicious for being Russian is as well.
  • Cmon, Kaspersky graduated from the KGB High School. He's a flesh of their flesh, not "just Russian". Not to mention that with updates on you just don't need a third party antivirus.