The US Department for Homeland Security has told government departments and agencies to remove all security software from the Moscow-based company Kaspersky Lab from their IT systems. It said it was concerned about ties between company officials and the Russian intelligence services. The move comes ahead of a vote in the US Senate this week to prohibit use of the company’s products by government. Kaspersky Lab has repeatedly denied that it has ties to the Kremlin. But the allegations have led to a number of US retailers withdrawing its products from sale. Kaspersky has more than 400 million customers worldwide, but it has never succeeded in becoming a major supplier to the US government.
Acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke gave government offices 90 days to begin to remove and replace the software.”The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies,” she said in a statement.”The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalise on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates US national security,” she added.’False allegations’Kaspersky said it was disappointed by the decision but would attempt to prove that the allegations were unfounded.”No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions,” the company said in a statement.But two months ago the news website Bloomberg reported it had seen emails between chief executive Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, outlining a secret cyber-security project apparently requested by the Russian intelligence service FSB.Bloomberg suggested that the tools not only deflected cyber-attacks, but also captured information about the hackers launching them, to pass on to Russian intelligence services.Also in July, the US government’s General Services Administration removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved vendors.The company has suggested both Russia and the US are trying to use it as a pawn in a geopolitical game.The Trump administration has been fighting allegations that it had contact with Russian officials during the US election in 2016.