The FBI has reportedly been advising private companies to stop using Kaspersky antivirus and internet protection apps, stating that they are an unacceptable threat to national security.
CyberScoop reports that the FBI has been speaking to intelligence companies in the private sector, warning them away from Kaspersky products claiming that the Moscow-based antivirus and internet security firm is a threat to national security. The FBI’s latest warnings are part of a long period of tension between the U.S. government and Kaspersky as many U.S. intelligence officials have worried that Kaspersky products could be used to collect private U.S. data. The FBI aims to have U.S. intelligence firms cease using Kaspersky products entirely.
The FBI’s counterintelligence team has been briefing multiple U.S. based companies since the start of 2017, prioritizing companies in the energy sector and companies that use industrial control (ICS) and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) systems as the FBI fears that cyberattacks on the U.S. electrical grids could be devastating. The prioritization of companies in the energy sector is partly due to recent cyberattacks on power grids in Ukraine and the Department of Homeland Security’s classification of the energy sector as “critical infrastructure.”
The FBI reportedly gave these companies a high-level overview of their threat assessment of Kaspersky products, including supposed links between the Kaspersky company and Russian intelligence agencies. The FBI listed a number of questionable actions by the Kaspersky company such as an instance in which the company allegedly faked malware. Kaspersky, however, denies these claims stating that the accusations come from, “disgruntled, former company employees, whose accusations are meritless.”
Companies that use ISC and SCADA systems have reportedly been extremely cooperative with the FBI with some even quietly moving away from Kaspersky products and signing contracts with Kaspersky competitors. Larger and more traditional tech companies that have had longstanding relationships with Kaspersky are reportedly less compliant with the FBI with some seeming to ignore the FBI’s warnings.
“If these briefings are actually occurring, it’s extremely disappointing that a government agency would take such actions against a law-abiding and ethical company like Kaspersky Lab,” a Kaspersky representative said in a statement to CyberScoop. “The company doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, which is why no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization to back up the false allegations made against Kaspersky Lab. The only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab, a private company, is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, and it’s being treated unfairly, even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber-espionage or offensive cyber efforts.”