The Trump administration is considering a ban on the use of software from a well-known Russian cybersecurity company that allegedly has connections to Russian intelligence.
U.S. government officials could determine within days whether it will remove Kaspersky Lab from the General Services Administration’s list of companies whose products are approved for use in federal agencies, according to an ABC news report Tuesday.
The decision will be the culmination of an “interagency review” that has been conducted by multiple federal agencies over the past weeks.
The government’s review comes amid allegations that Kaspersky Lab has ties to the FSB, Russia’s federal security service. Kaspersky Lab developed technology on behalf of the intelligence service, participated in joint projects and participated in ride alongs with FSB agents on raids, according to Bloomberg Businessweek.
A thread of emails obtained by Bloomberg supposedly shows Eugene Kaspersky, the company’s chairman and CEO, outlining a secret project to senior staff in October 2009. The project was started the year before “per a big request on the Lubyanka side.” The Lubyanka is the common term for the former headquarters of the Soviet-era KGB, and the current FSB offices housed at Lubyanka Square.
Kaspersky Lab vocally denied any impropriety vis-a-vis government agencies in a statement published Tuesday, noting that it only works with such agencies to fight crime.
“Regardless of how the facts are misconstrued to fit in with a hypothetical, false theory, Kaspersky Lab, and its executives, do not have inappropriate ties with any government,” said Kaspersky Lab in a statement. “The company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole purpose of fighting cybercrime.”
The company confirmed the authenticity of the emails, but insisted that the communications were “misinterpreted or manipulated to try to make the media outlet’s narrative work.”
Kaspersky Lab told The Daily Caller News Foundation that it 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 geopolitical game,” the company told TheDCNF.
U.S. intelligence officials expressed concern regarding Kaspersky Lab in a May hearing before the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers claimed he was “personally involved” in monitoring Kaspersky Lab, while Defense Intelligence Agency Director Vincent Stewart noted that his agency was “tracking Kaspersky and their software.”
GOP Florida Sen. Marco Rubio asked the six intelligence officials if they would use Kaspersky Lab software on their computers. The answer was a unanimous “no.”
The company’s website claims that more than 400 million users and more than 270,000 organizations are protected by its technologies, which includes Americans. In fact, more than half ($374 million) of the company’s $633 million in sales last year were from Western Europe and the U.S., according to Bloomberg.
Democratic New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has already taken steps to counter the use of Kaspersky Lab products in the government. The New Hampshire Democrat, who is a member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services, introduced an amendment to the Department of Defense spending bill three weeks ago which would aim to ban the military from using the company’s software.
Kaspersky Lab told TheDCNF that it is willing to work with the U.S. government to address any concerns it may have regarding the company.
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