Filed in the “Maybe We Should Have Known This Before” drawer:
The Trump Administration is considering a ban on all federal agencies from using the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software.
Federal officials are increasingly concerned that the company could pose a serious national security threat, ABC reports.
They believe that the Russian company could be used to spy on Americans’ personal information, and are in the process of trying to get the General Services Administration to remove them from the list of outside vendors approved for use by government agencies.
There are also serious concerns that Kaspersky software could be used by computers it inhabits to launch malicious attacks that pose a serious threat to national interests.
When it is installed on users’ computers, Kaspersky Lab’s anti-virus software is able to steal and manipulate files and read private email – like all anti-virus software does. An investigation into the company has raised alarms that the software could also be used to attack critical infrastructure in the United States.
The company has insisted it has no relationship with the Kremlin and poses no threat to America or Americans.
Kaspersky Lab’s CEO, Eugene Kaspersky, recently said any concerns about his company are based in “ungrounded speculation and all sorts of other made-up things,” adding that he and his company “have no ties to any government, and we have never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with their cyber-espionage efforts.”
While there is no evidence that the company has any direct ties to the Kremlin, for months, US intelligence agencies have been worried about the technology company.
Kaspersky’s anti-virus software is installed in millions of homes across the country and is one of the top companies in the industry. The software is on 400 million computers around the globe.
State and local government agencies also rely on Kaspersky’s software to protect them from malware, hacking and viruses.
The company posted annual revenue in 2015 of $619 million and has about 3,500 employees worldwide.
But maybe the feds should have known much sooner that Kaspersky might be a problem.
In August 2015, Bloomberg reported that “high-level managers [at Kaspersky] have left or been fired, their jobs often filled by people with closer ties to Russia’s military or intelligence services. Some of these people actively aid criminal investigations by the FSB, the KGB’s successor, using data from some of the 400 million customers.”
It might too little, too late, to solve this problem is Kaspersky is genuinely compromised. But it’s better than doing nothing.