Homeland Security has ordered the removal of all software made by the Russian cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab from government-owned computer systems across the country.
The New York Times reports that the federal government took action on Wednesday to remove all software created by the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab from U.S. government computer systems. The decision came after the FBI announced they would be investigating the Russian company for possible ties to Russian security government security services. According to current and former American officials, the FBI working with American spies have been trying to determine for years whether or not executives at Kaspersky are working with Russian military or intelligence agencies. The FBI has also been investigating whether Kaspersky software products provide backdoors allowing Russian intelligence to access computers running the software, a claim that the company denies.
During a Senate hearing in May, American security officials including the chiefs of the FBI and CIA were asked if they were comfortable having Kaspersky software running on their organizations’ computers. They replied with a blunt and resounding “No.” Even private companies seemed to pay attention to the rumors surrounding Kaspersky with electronics store Best Buy removing all Kaspersky Lab cybersecurity products from their shelves and website.
Elaine C. Duke, the acting secretary of Homeland Security, ordered federal agencies on Wednesday to begin devising plans to remove all Kaspersky software from government computer systems within the next 90 days due to fears that Kaspersky software may be acting as spyware for the Russian government. A statement from the Department of Homeland Security reads, “The BOD calls on departments and agencies to identify any use or presence of Kaspersky products on their information systems in the next 30 days, to develop detailed plans to remove and discontinue present and future use of the products in the next 60 days, and at 90 days from the date of this directive, unless directed otherwise by DHS based on new information, to begin to implement the agency plans to discontinue use and remove the products from information systems.”
Duke gave a statement on the removal of Kaspersky software saying, “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.” Kaspersky Lab reportedly has around 400 million customers worldwide, many of whom are based in the U.S., Kaspersky Lab also has a well-established business analyzing and investigating cyberthreats.
Kaspersky Lab stated that they were disappointed by the decision from the U.S. government and deny any ties whatsoever to the Russian government or intelligence agencies.