The U.S. government banned the use of Kaspersky security software in federal offices on Sept. 13, saying the Russian
company has risky ties to Russian
intelligence that threaten U.S. national security.
Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke ordered all government offices to remove and replace any of the company’s popular anti-hacker software in use within 90 days.
“The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian
intelligence and other government agencies,” Duke said in a statement, as quoted by AFP.
She also expressed concern that Russian
intelligence agencies can by law request or compel assistance from Kaspersky, including in intercepting communications transiting Russian
“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,” Duke said.
The move comes amid heightened strains between Russia
and the U.S. over Moscow’s alleged interference in last year’s U.S. presidential election.
The decision by the U.S. government to stop using Kaspersky Lab products is “regrettable” and delays the prospects of a restoration of bilateral ties, the Russian
embassy in the United States said.
“These steps can only evoke regrets. They only move back the prospects of bilateral ties recovery,” the embassy said in a statement issued late on Sept. 13.
It also called for consideration of Russia’s proposal to form a joint group to address cyber security issues.
Kaspersky has repeatedly denied having anything more than correct business ties to the Kremlin, saying it is “caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight.”
Founder and chief executive Eugene Kaspersky said he has repeatedly offered to present the company’s source code to U.S. officials for an audit, but has not been given the opportunity to do so.
The Department of Homeland Security said on Sept. 13 that Kaspersky could give a written response to the ban to address the department’s concerns.