DHS Orders Removal of Kaspersky From Government Computers Over Security Concern

The U.S Department of Homeland security (DHS) on Wednesday ordered the federal agencies to remove any products of the Kaspersky Lab working on government computers. The reason behind the ban has been cited to be the possible ties between Kaspersky and Russian intelligence agencies. The concern was that the Russian intelligence could exploit the U.S systems using Kaspersky software.

The DHS said in a statement “The Department of Homeland Security is 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 U.S. national security.”
The agency in charge of government purchasing, the federal General Services Administration removed Kaspersky from its approved vendors months ago. After which this directive came forward. The vulnerability exists with Kaspersky can provide Kremlin backdoor access to the protected computers.

Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke ordered federal departments and agencies to identify any Kaspersky products in their information systems within next 30 days and plan a removal idea of these products in 60 days. He ordered to implement the plans within 90 days.

The department has also given the chance to Kaspersky for submitting a typed response to software concerns and the ways of mitigating them. Although it cannot be said whether any response by Kaspersky would stop the ongoing implementation of DHS order for banning its products from government computers.

DHS’s orders disappointed Kaspersky a lot however, it expressed gratitude for the opportunity of providing evidence that it is not involved with any Russian propaganda and all allegations are baseless.

The firm explained that the Russian laws indicated by DHS applied to internet service providers and other telecom companies, not to the antivirus companies like Kaspersky. It also said that the information received by the company from users at its Moscow headquarters is secured with digital certificates and encryption.

The firm stated, “Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it’s disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent, due to geopolitical issues,”
It further added, “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.”

The cybersecurity expert Eugene Kaspersky founded this firm in 1997. He was the learner at KGB’s cryptography Institute and has connections with the Soviet military as he worked for them. The company successfully expanded its business outside Russia however; it gained distrust when relations between Washington and Moscow came under tension.

The U.S. lawmakers have always urged the government for removing Kaspersky products from government computers. They urged them due to the reason that Russian intelligence was involved in the presidential election half-truths.

The report by the U.S. intelligence community stated that the Russian administration directed electoral interference in last year’s election for supporting Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton, his Democratic rival. It was also mentioned in the report that the state election systems were hacked to leak information regarding political strategies. It also said that promoting negative stories about Mrs. Clinton through social media was a tactic.

Although Russia denied any interference in this scenario, Mr. Trump called the interference in the election a “witch hunt.”

Sen.Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat from New Hampshire has been highlighting the issue in Congress. She said, “I applaud the Trump administration for heeding my call to remove Kaspersky Lab software from all federal agencies,” “The strong ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are very alarming and well-documented.”

Ms. Shaheen serves the Foreign Relations Committee. She showed appreciation to DHS action and termed it as “a significant step forward”. She was quite optimistic about the government-wide ban on Kaspersky products.

The Kaspersky stated that “working inappropriately with any government would be detrimental to the company’s bottom line.” This is because the company serves the government agencies regarding cybersecurity investigations from around the world, thus it denied any unethical connections to any government including Russia.

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