DHS pushes back against Kaspersky motion to overturn federal ban

DHS pushes back against Kaspersky motion to overturn federal ban
© Getty Images

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is pushing back against a motion filed by Russia-based Kaspersky Lab that seeks to overturn the government-wide ban on its anti-virus products.

DHS argues that even if a judge grants an injunction to reverse the ban, the federal agency will still not use the Russian software on its computer systems as a result of a congressional ban that goes into effect on Oct. 1, according to court documents filed Monday.

ADVERTISEMENT

"Nothing of any practical value would come from a favorable ruling here," the court filing reads. 

ADVERTISEMENT

DHS argues that most agencies would not opt to reinstall or buy Kaspersky products in the short period before this year's National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) goes into effect, even if a judge does rule in favor of lifting the federal ban against its products.

If reversing the ban would not change any circumstances for the firm, then there is no legal basis for seeking a reversal, DHS argued.

“Rescinding the [binding operational directive] would leave the congressional ban in place, which means federal agencies still would be required to remove and stop using Kaspersky products and there still would be law branding the company’s software as a security risk,” lawyers for DHS argue. 

The Moscow-based firm filed an injunction in court last month in an attempt to block the Trump administration’s September directive that orders the removal and banning of Kaspersky's software over concerns about the firm's alleged ties to the Russian government. Agencies and departments had a December deadline to remove the Kaspersky products from their computers.

The software company has repeatedly maintained that it operates independently of the Kremlin, describing the U.S. government’s assertions in September as "completely unfounded." 

In December court filings, Kaspersky argued it did not receive proper notice about the order or a chance to contest the underlying evidence used to reach the decision. The cybersecurity firm, which provides anti-virus software to more than 400 million customers worldwide, has argued that the debarment has damaged their reputation and thus consequentially their business. 

DHS reiterated in the new court filings its fear that the company’s software poses security risks to government systems as a result of its possible ties to the Russian government.

"Russia is a sophisticated adversary that has proven willing and able to compromise and exploit access to U.S. networks, and its intelligence services have an unusually close relationship with Kaspersky and virtually unbounded authority under Russian law to compel information stored on the company’s Russian servers and intercept data transmissions between the company and its U.S. customers," the court filings read.

"As long as Kaspersky’s products are on U.S. government networks, Russia will have the ability to exploit Kaspersky’s access for hostile purposes, with or without the company’s cooperation," it added.

DHS in earlier court filings said their decision was based in part on information already available in the public view — like newspaper reports and congressional testimonies.