US Government Finally Bans Kaspersky Software after Years of Investigations
Remember the case against Kaspersky? Here’s a quick memory refresher. One of the world’s most popular cyber security software, Kaspersky was recently in hot waters when members of the US Senate believed that it helped Russian espionage in the US. The owner, Eugene Kaspersky’s connection with the Russian government further aggravated these concerns. Back in July, the Senate strongly suggested the US Defense Department and other security agencies refrain from using the software. Following that ban, today, the U.S government has officially moved to ban the use of the software by federal agencies.
The directives for the ban were ordered by Elaine Duke, acting homeland security secretary who asked federal civilian agencies to identify the existence of Kaspersky Lab on their networks and have it removed within 90 days. The US government seems to firmly believe that the Russian government has been using the software to spy on US state secrets and carry out potentially dangerous cyber attacks. According to the department’s statement, they are, “concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks. The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates U.S. national security.”
It should be noted that the department does not specifically state that they have any proof of the Russian government actually carrying out malicious activities through the software. They do state that the software has a vulnerability (either intentional or not), that could give the Russian government backdoor access to US systems. In a twisted irony, the very software that was designed to protect systems would be the one that can violate it. This move has led to local and state governments to reconsider using the software as their main line of cyber security.
As allegations of Russian interference in US elections amount, the government is doing all it can to weed out potential root causes. In the case of Kaspersky though, the entire banning and removal seem to be done out of speculation rather than inspection. There is no clear-cut evidence and members of the departments are just as lost. The case has been going on for years and months at end where agencies and public defense departments were asked to stop the use of the software. In the response of all this, Eugene Kaspersky denies any connection with the Russian government and the company clearly states that “it has never helped, nor will help any government in the world with its cyber espionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it’s disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent.”
The company has not been proven guilty. The US government bans a security software on grounds of suspicions. The question is, not whether the US government is right. The question is will such an act affect private companies and cyber businesses? The question is, will politicizing a software or any cyber program help resolve problems?