Friday, 18 August 2017 10:22

FBI pushing private firms to ban Kaspersky products: report Featured

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A push to make private US companies give up the use of products from Kaspersky Lab is in progress, with the FBI holding briefings for firms and telling them that intelligence shows the Russian company is a threat to national security.

Cyberscoop reported that US officials, both serving and retired, had said the goal of the briefings was to push Kaspersky Lab products out of the US system altogether, or at least to prevent the use in any new systems.

The focus has been private companies in the energy sector and those which use industrial control and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems. The briefings began this year.

Last month, the US government removed Kaspersky products from a list of approved software suppliers for two government-wide purchasing contracts.

And there were reports that the US Senate was set to use a a provision in the National Defence Authorisation Act to look at a ban on the company's software in all federal agencies.

The move against Kaspersky Lab has come in the wake of allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 US presidential elections. Recently, the US approved more sanctions against Russia and Moscow retaliated by saying it would expel several hundred American diplomats.

The report said the FBI had also held information sessions for big US technology companies that had business tie-ups or working relationships with Kaspersky Lab on products like routers or virtual machines that are widely used.

The briefings are said to give the companies an overview of the alleged threat, and also press home what US intelligence claims are Kaspersky Lab's relationships with Russian intelligence. The FBI has also been citing charges that Kaspersky Lab was involved in wrongdoing, including one case of allegedly faking malware.

A spokesperson from Kaspersky Lab told Cyberscoop that this particular accusation came from disgruntled, former company employees, whose accusations are meritless. FBI officials claim the incident had the company's blessing.

The briefings have resulted in companies that use ISC and SCADA systems being co-operative and several have signed deals with Kaspersky's competitors.

But other technology companies have reportedly been less receptive to the FBI's briefings.

In response to a query from iTWire, Kaspersky Lab's local unit said: "Kaspersky Lab has no ties to any government, and the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber espionage efforts. 

"The company has a 20-year history in the IT security industry of always abiding by the highest ethical business practices and trustworthy development of technologies, and Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations.

"Kaspersky Lab, a private company, seems to be caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight where each side is attempting to use the company as a pawn in their political game. 

"Eugene Kaspersky, chief executive and founder of Kaspersky Lab, has repeatedly offered to meet government officials, testify before the US Congress and provide the company's source code for an official audit to help address any questions the US government has about the company. 

"Kaspersky Lab continues to be available to assist all concerned government organisations with any investigations, and the company ardently believes a deeper examination of Kaspersky Lab will confirm that these allegations are unfounded."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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