Kaspersky Lab’s attempts to overturn U.S. ban on its products fails

31 May 2018

| Author: Jay Jay

Kaspersky Lab’s attempts to reverse the ban on the use of its antivirus products in the United States received a major jolt on Wednesday after a federal judge dismissed two lawsuits filed by the firm to challenge a directive from the DHS to all US civilian government agencies last year.

Ban on Kaspersky Lab’s AV products

In September last year, the US Department of Homeland Security directed all government departments and agencies to remove or replace Kaspersky Lab software within 90 days. In a press release, DHS stated that Kaspersky Lab’s anti-virus products and solutions provided broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software was installed, and this, in turn, offered cyber criminals the opportunity to compromise those information systems.

“The Department is 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,’ the department added.

In December last year, the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre also directed all UK government agencies not to choose ‘a Russia-based AV company’ as doing so would put national security at risk. NCSC’s head Ciaran Martin then said that even though a majority of UK citizens and businesses were not directly targeted by the Russian state, government departments and critical infrastructure firms faced more risks every day and as such, should avoid using software that had origins in Russia.

Kaspersky Lab’s losing battle

According to Reuters, U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly dismissed a suit filed by Kaspersky Lab on Wednesday that sought to overturn the DHS’ ruling that was issued in September last year. At the same time, the judge also determined that Kaspersky Lab had failed to convince the court that “Congress violated constitutional prohibitions on legislation that “determines guilt and inflicts punishment” without the protections of a judicial trial”.

Despite being banned by government agencies in the U.S. and the UK, Kaspersky Lab has gone to great lengths in the past year to convince its clients that it is not associated with the Russian government or Russian intelligence agencies and that its activities in the West are independent of Russian influence.

Last year, Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, who headed the Defense Intelligence Agency and Mike Rogers, who headed the NSA voiced similar concerns, said that their organisations and contractors chose to stay away from Kaspersky software as they believed Kaspersky Lab recruited several people who had links to Russian defence and intelligence agencies.

“The company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber-espionage efforts. Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations,” said Kaspersky Labs in a statement.

“I respectfully disagree with their opinion, and I’m very sorry these gentlemen can’t use the best software on the market because of political reasons,” said co-founder Eugene Kaspersky in a post on Reddit.


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