The US Department of Homeland Security has ordered all government agencies and departments in the country to stop using Kaspersky, which is a security software.
Kaspersky Lab is a Russian multinational company.
According to US intelligence agencies, Kremlin interfered in the 2016 presidential elections. The country is reported to have carried out an “influence campaign” against Hillary Clinton. It hacked the servers of the Democratic National Committee and sent the contents of those emails to Wikileaks. It also hacked the private email of Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, John Podesta. Wikileaks, in turn, released that content to the public.
US President, Donald Trump has been enigmatic in blaming Russia for the cyber-attacks. He has said that other countries could have been part of this hack as well. There is also an ongoing Department of Justice (DoJ) investigation looking into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.
Kaspersky is a Russian multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow, Russia. It is operated by a holding company in the United Kingdom. It boasts over 400 million users and the much of its market is in Europe. The company has denied its ties to the Kremlin, however there is concern within America that Kaspersky Lab is connected to Russian intelligence.
The company was founded by Eugene V. Kaspersky. He was a classmate to a number of Russians who later became spies for the nation. He also wrote the software for the Soviet Army before starting the company.
Even though the relations between Russia and the US have deteriorated significantly in the recent months, the US intelligence has long been suspicious of the software. FBI agents have for years tried to determine whether Kaspersky executives were in connected to Russian intelligence agencies. The US Senate is also working on passing a bill that will ban Kaspersky software from being used in government agencies – thus codifying the directive into law.
Tellingly, during a Senate hearing held in May 2017, a number of CIA and FBI agents said that they did not trust the Kaspersky software.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke announced that the US government would stop using this product. She said that government offices have 90 days to replace the software accordingly. She noted, “The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies. 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 company has refuted the US government’s accusations and questioned the motives behind the move. In a statement it said, “No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that he does not believe that relations between the two nations are likely to mend in the near future.
Our assessment is that the US government has taken a step towards certainly what it perceives to be a credible threat from Russia. We believe that it is the right of every national government to do what it deems appropriate to secure its national assets.