U.S. agencies ordered to stop using Russian company's software

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

Officials say that the prominent company poses a threat to US national security and have given government agencies and departments 90 days to get rid of Kaspersky Lab software.

The Department of Homeland Security issued the order on September 13 following growing criticism in Congress and elsewhere about the Moscow-based company's software products, which are widely used in the United States and elsewhere.

The directive issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke comes as various US law enforcement and intelligence agencies and several congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

DHS stressed that its concerns about Kaspersky Lab are related to the access that the company's products have to sensitive systems, which could allow-either knowingly or unwittingly-Russian intelligence services to gain access to vital government information and operations. The company's founder, Eugene Kaspersky, graduated from a KGB-supported cryptography school and had worked in Russian military intelligence.

The move is the culmination of months of distrust of Kaspersky from figures in Washington, all tinged with the allegation that company has inappropriate ties with or can be compromised by Russian intelligence agencies.

Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that since the election, questions have intensified about federal information networks use of the Russian company's software. Any US government agency using Kaspersky products needs to identify them within the next 30 days, the DHS instructs, and then come up with a plan to remove them completely in the next 60 days.

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Questions over Kaspersky's motives have even led the USA electronics chain Best Buy to stop stocking Kaspersky antivirus software.

David Kennedy, founder of Cleveland-based TrustedSec, told BuzzFeed News, that there has "never" been any evidence presented publicly that Kaspersky has direct ties to the Russian government, though he said some evidence might have been presented in private.

The department said it would provide Kaspersky with the opportunity to submit a written response to address the allegations. It also pointed out that government and business users have the option to opt-out of sending data to the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN). Several other retailers that carry Kaspersky, including Amazon and Newegg, declined to confirm to BuzzFeed News that they were committed to continue to selling the firm's products.

Kaspersky considers as a part of its positions previous Russian knowledge authorities and has helped Russian experts in examinations of cybercrime, yet such connects to local security administrations and help are standard in the cybersecurity business.

Concerns about Kaspersky software had been brewing for years, according to one former official who told The Post that some congressional staffers were warned by federal law enforcement officials as early as November 2015 not to meet with employees from Kaspersky, over concerns about electronic surveillance. "What's more, on the off chance that you will acquire equipment and programming in such amounts, at that point in specific zones the state will unavoidably say to you: 'You know, we can't purchase that, since some place a catch will be squeezed and here everything will go down'".

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