Trump weighing government-wide ban on Russian security software: report

Trump weighing government-wide ban on Russian security software: report
© Getty Images

The Trump administration is mulling whether to bar all federal agencies from using security software developed by a prominent cybersecurity firm based in Russia. 

ABC News reported on Tuesday that a final decision could come in a matter of days. Such a move would remove Kaspersky Lab, a global company headquartered in Russia, from the General Services Administration’s (GSA) list of approved outside vendors. 

Kaspersky Lab has been the subject of media attention in recent years for alleged ties to Russian intelligence agencies. Eugene Kaspersky, the firm’s founder, was trained at a KBG-sponsored school and worked for a scientific institute run by the Soviet military.

ADVERTISEMENT

The FBI has reportedly pressed forward with a long-running probe into the company, though the government has not produced any public evidence demonstrating links between the company and Russian intelligence. 

The White House, Department of Homeland Security, GSA and other agencies have been reviewing the issue for weeks, according to ABC. 

The report comes after the Senate Armed Services moved to prohibit the Pentagon from using software produced by Kaspersky.

There are concerns in intelligence circles about Kaspersky’s products. During questioning before the Senate Intelligence Committee in May, six top U.S. intelligence officials said they would not be comfortable having Kaspersky’s software on their computers. 

However, others have described these concerns as overblown and unwarranted, given that no evidence exists showing the firm to be somehow tied to the Russian government. 

The firm produces widely lauded antivirus software that boasts 400 million users worldwide, with operations in nearly 200 countries and territories. The company says that its U.S. subsidiary, Kaspersky Lab North America, is distinct from the headquarters in Moscow.

“With the U.S. and Russia at odds, somehow, my company, its innovative and proven products as well as our amazing employees are repeatedly being defamed,” Kaspersky wrote in a blog post in response to the prohibition on the software included in the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act. 

“Obviously, as a private company, Kaspersky Lab and I have no ties to any government, and we have never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with their cyber-espionage efforts.”