U.S. agen­cies ordered to stop us­ing soft­ware


WASH­ING­TON — The U.S. on Wed­nes­day banned fed­eral agen­cies from us­ing com­puter soft­ware supplied by Kaspersky Lab be­cause of con­cerns about the com­pany’s ties to the Krem­lin and Rus­sian spy op­er­a­tions.

The di­rec­tive is­sued by act­ing Home­land Se­cu­rity Sec­re­tary Elaine Duke comes as var­i­ous U.S. law en­force­ment and in­tel­li­gence agen­cies and sev­eral con­gres­sional com­mit­tees are in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian med­dling in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Kaspersky said in a state­ment that it was dis­ap­pointed by the di­rec­tive and in­sisted “it does not have un­eth­i­cal ties or af­fil­i­a­tions with any gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing Rus­sia.”

Duke di­rected all U.S. fed­eral agen­cies and de­part­ments to stop us­ing prod­ucts or ser­vices supplied di­rectly or in­di­rectly by the Rus­sian-owned and op­er­ated com­pany. The di­rec­tive gives agen­cies 30 days to de­ter­mine whether they are us­ing any Kaspersky prod­ucts. The soft­ware must be re­moved from all in­for­ma­tion sys­tems within 90 days.

“The de­part­ment is con­cerned about the ties be­tween cer­tain Kaspersky of­fi­cials and Rus­sian in­tel­li­gence and other gov­ern­ment agen­cies,” the di­rec­tive said. It said the de­part­ment also is con­cerned about Rus­sian laws that would per­mit Rus­sian spy agen­cies to com­pel Kaspersky to pro­vide as­sis­tance or 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 (in or­der) to com­pro­mise fed­eral in­for­ma­tion and in­for­ma­tion sys­tems di­rectly im­pli­cates U.S. na­tional se­cu­rity,” the di­rec­tive said.

The di­rec­tive pro­vides Kaspersky an op­por­tu­nity to re­spond or mit­i­gate the de­part­ment’s con­cerns.

Kaspersky said the com­pany was happy to have an op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide in­for­ma­tion to show that the al­le­ga­tions are un­founded.

“No cred­i­ble ev­i­dence has been pre­sented pub­licly by any­one or any or­ga­ni­za­tion as the ac­cu­sa­tions are based on false al­le­ga­tions and in­ac­cu­rate as­sump­tions, in­clud­ing claims about the im­pact of Rus­sian reg­u­la­tions and poli­cies on the com­pany,” Kaspersky said.

Kaspersky said it is not sub­ject to the Rus­sian laws cited in the di­rec­tive and said in­for­ma­tion re­ceived by the com­pany is pro­tected in ac­cor­dance with le­gal re­quire­ments and strin­gent in­dus­try stan­dards, in­clud­ing en­cryp­tion.

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

Elec­tron­ics re­tailer Best Buy has re­moved Kaspersky prod­ucts from its shelves, al­though it de­clined to ex­plain why. Amazon, which sells Kaspersky soft­ware, de­clined to com­ment. Sta­ples and Of­fice De­pot, both of which sell the soft­ware, didn’t im­me­di­ately re­turn mes­sages seek­ing com­ment.

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of the soft­ware com­pany, Eu­gene Kaspersky, is a math­e­mat­i­cal en­gi­neer who at­tended a KGBspon­sored school and once worked for Rus­sia’s Min­istry of De­fense.

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