U.S. Government Using Kaspersky Labs
As early as 2008, Russian-based antivirus company, Kaspersky Labs, has been used on U.S. government devices. However, with the rising concern of ties between Kaspersky Labs and the Russian government, the United States Congress is taking major steps to prevent the use of Kaspersky on government devices. In May of 2017, Florida Senator, Marco Rubio, questioned the Senate Intelligence Committee on their willingness to use Kaspersky Labs on their devices. The consensus was an overwhelming no.
Since May, the U.S. government has been working diligently to create a bill that would prevent the U.S. military from using Kaspersky security programs on any of their devices. Currently, legislation has passed both the House of Representatives and Senate Armed Service Committees preventing the use of Kaspersky on military devices; however, it still needs to be implemented into law.
If this law were to pass, the Russian Communications Minister has made threats against American software and hardware companies, stating their businesses would in turn be negatively impacted. Slightly alarming considering Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Labs, has done nothing short of screaming from mountain tops that Kaspersky is not tied to the Russian government. Yet, their government is threatening U.S. businesses if the Pentagon drops Kaspersky Labs as a security solution provider.
In an attempt to maintain relations with U.S. government agencies, Eugene has offered to release Kaspersky Labs’ source codes, as well speak directly to the U.S. Senate to answer any questions they may have. He has also offered to move parts of the company’s security research to the U.S. All of these attempts to save face are not too surprising, considering the financial blow Kaspersky faces if the begin to lose American business. It is likely, if the U.S. government bans the use of Kaspersky, several other American users will do the same. This would lead to a massive plummet in Kaspersky Labs’ revenues, considering approximately 60% of their sales are from the U.S.
Are the Concerns Legitimate?
It’s clear, the U.S. officials believe the ties between the Russian government and Kaspersky Labs are legitimate. Additional affirmations arose when a Russian government official threatened retaliation if the Pentagon dropped Kaspersky as a security solution provider. Also, a Kaspersky Lab employee, Ruslan Stoyanov, was arrested for treason. However, the company claims that was for issues prior to his employment with the security provider. Lastly, Eugene Kaspersky previous served with the Solviet military. This may not be alarming, until a Russian ambassador stated,
‘In Russia we have saying that once you are a member of security service, you never leave.’
It appears the evidence is stacking up against Kaspersky, regardless of their attempts to reaffirm their government ties are nonexistent.