The Trump administration has decided to ban Kaspersky Lab software products from IT systems owned by all government departments and agencies.
All US government departments and agencies have been asked to remove or replace Kaspersky Lab software within 90 days.
The US Department of Homeland Security confirmed this development just days before the US Senate is set to vote on a motion banning the use of Kaspersky Lab products by government agencies and departments.
In a press release, the DHS said that Kaspersky anti-virus products and solutions provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed, and this, in turn, offers cyber criminals the opportunity to compromise those information systems.
‘The Department 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,’ it added.
Even though the department has directed all government agencies to ‘remove and discontinue’ the use of Kaspersky Lab products within 90 days, it has offered Kaspersky Lab the opportunity to address and mitigate the government’s concerns.
‘The Department wants to ensure that the company has a full opportunity to inform the Acting Secretary of any evidence, materials, or data that may be relevant. This opportunity is also available to any other entity that claims its commercial interests will be directly impacted by the directive,’ it added.
It is a well-known fact that premier US intelligence agencies like the NSA, CIA and the Director of National Intelligence have been wary of Kaspersky Lab’s alleged links to the Russian government, even though they are yet to furnish concrete evidence to back their assertions.
In May, Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, who heads the Defense Intelligence Agency and Mike Rogers who heads the NSA, said that their departments had chosen to stay away from Kaspersky software because they believed Kaspersky Lab recruited several people who may have links to Russian defence and intelligence agencies.
Earlier this week, Best Buy announced that it will not sell security software provided by Kaspersky Lab anymore, stating that there are too many unanswered questions that need to be answered.