US to stop using software from Russia-linked Kaspersky Lab

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security has ordered federal agencies to stop using software made by Kaspersky Lab over concerns about the company's ties to Russian intelligence, DHS announced Wednesday.

"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," DHS said in a statement. "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."

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Kaspersky Lab -- Russian cyber security company
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Kaspersky Lab -- Russian cyber security company
An employee works near screens in the virus lab at the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow July 29, 2013. If you want to hack a phone, order a cyber attack on a competitor's website or buy a Trojan programme to steal banking information, look no further than the former Soviet Union. Picture taken July 29, 2013. To match Feature RUSSIA-CYBERCRIME/ REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY CRIME LAW BUSINESS)
An employee works near screens in the virus lab at the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow July 29, 2013. If you want to hack a phone, order a cyber attack on a competitor's website or buy a Trojan programme to steal banking information, look no further than the former Soviet Union. Picture taken July 29, 2013. To match Feature RUSSIA-CYBERCRIME/ REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY CRIME LAW BUSINESS)
An employee works near screens in the virus lab at the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow July 29, 2013. If you want to hack a phone, order a cyber attack on a competitor's website or buy a Trojan programme to steal banking information, look no further than the former Soviet Union. Picture taken July 29, 2013. To match Feature RUSSIA-CYBERCRIME/ REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY CRIME LAW BUSINESS)
A general view of the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow July 29, 2013. If you want to hack a phone, order a cyber attack on a competitor's website or buy a Trojan programme to steal banking information, look no further than the former Soviet Union. Picture taken July 29, 2013. To match Feature RUSSIA-CYBERCRIME/ REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY CRIME LAW BUSINESS)
An employee works near screens in the virus lab at the headquarters of Russian cyber security company Kaspersky Labs in Moscow July 29, 2013. If you want to hack a phone, order a cyber attack on a competitor's website or buy a Trojan programme to steal banking information, look no further than the former Soviet Union. Picture taken July 29, 2013. To match Feature RUSSIA-CYBERCRIME/ REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY CRIME LAW BUSINESS)
Employees work at the headquarters of Kaspersky Labs, a company which specialises in the production of anti-virus and internet security software, in Moscow July 29, 2013. Picture taken July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)
An employee works at the headquarters of Kaspersky Labs, a company which specialises in the production of antivirus and internet security software, in Moscow July 29, 2013. Picture taken July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)
Employees work at the headquarters of Kaspersky Labs, a company which specialises in the production of antivirus and internet security software, in Moscow July 29, 2013. Picture taken July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)
Employees work at the headquarters of Kaspersky Labs, a company which specialises in the production of antivirus and internet security software, in Moscow July 29, 2013. Picture taken July 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin (RUSSIA - Tags: SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY BUSINESS)
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The move came after mounting concerns about Kaspersky, which is the subject of an ongoing FBI counterintelligence investigation. FBI agents in June paid visits to at least a dozen employees at home, asking questions about that company's operations as part of the inquiry, multiple sources familiar with the matter told NBC News.

Best Buy announced last week it would stop selling Kaspersky products over concerns about the company's Russian government ties.

Related: FBI Interviews Employees at Russia-Linked Cyber Firm

The company's cybersecurity software is widely used in the United States, and its billionaire owner, Eugene Kaspersky, has close ties to some Russian intelligence figures, according to U.S. officials. He graduated in 1987 from the Soviet KGB-backed Institute of Cryptography, Telecommunications and Computer Science.

Kaspersky Lab paid former national security adviser Michael Flynn $11,250 in 2015 for cybersecurity consulting, according to public documents, but that was not a focus of the FBI questioning, multiple sources said.

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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
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Retired Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
National security adviser General Michael Flynn delivers a statement daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn arrives at the Trump Tower for meetings with US President-elect Donald Trump, in New York on November 17, 2016.

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Retired United States Army lieutenant general Michael T. Flynn introduces Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump before he delivered a speech at The Union League of Philadelphia on September 7, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Trump spoke about his plans to build up the military if elected. Recent national polls show the presidential race is tightening with two months until the election.

(Photo by Mark Makela/Getty Images)

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, at podium, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump attend a campaign event with veterans at the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Ave., NW, where Trump stated he believes President Obama was born in the United States, September 16, 2016.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 01: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer (L) yields the briefing room podium to National Security Adviser Michael Flynn February 1, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flynn said the White House is 'officially putting Iran on notice' for a recent missile test and support for Houthi rebels in Yemen. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, prepares to testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in Dirksen Building titled 'Current and Future Worldwide Threats,' featuring testimony by he and James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (C) arrives prior to a joint news conference between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 13, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. National Security Advisor Michael Flynn boards Air Force One at West Palm Beach International airport in West Palm Beach, Florida U.S., February 12, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
National security adviser General Michael Flynn arrives to deliver a statement during the daily briefing at the White House in Washington U.S., February 1, 2017. Picture taken February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (L) arrives at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, U.S., February 10, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 10: (AFP OUT) White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn (R) walks down the West Wing Colonnade following a bilateral meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe February 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. Trump and Abe are expected to discuss many issues, including trade and security ties and will hold a joint press confrence later in the day. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
ATLANTA, GA - FEBRUARY 02: (L-R) SCAD Dramatic writing professor Chris Auer, Producer Sandra Leviton, Executive producer and writer Michael Flynn, Tv literary agent Jeff Greenberg and Literary manager and producer Kaila York speak on stage during the 'Inside the Writers Room' event on Day One of aTVfest 2017 presented by SCAD on February 2, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD)
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.), National Security Advisor Designate speaks during a conference on the transition of the US Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the US Institute Of Peace in Washington DC, January 10, 2017. / AFP / CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, U.S. national security advisor, attends a swearing in ceremony of White House senior staff in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017. Trump today mocked protesters who gathered for large demonstrations across the U.S. and the world on Saturday to signal discontent with his leadership, but later offered a more conciliatory tone, saying he recognized such marches as a hallmark of our democracy. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Michael Flynn walks out after a morning worship service on Inauguration day at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, DC on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Attorney General nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) (R), talks with National Security Advisor Michael Flynn inside of the inaugural parade reviewing stand in front of the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Donald Trump was sworn in as the nation's 45th president today. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Retired Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, White House national security adviser-designate, center, stands in an elevator at Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. Donald Trump is slated to meet with AT&T Inc.'s top executives on Thursday to discuss the company's proposed $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. The president-elect has said he opposes the deal. Photographer: John Taggart/Bloomberg via Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 20: Donald Trump's National Security Adviser Gen. Michael T. Flynn (R) arrives on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. In today's inauguration ceremony Donald J. Trump becomes the 45th president of the United States. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Lieutenant General Michael Flynn (ret.) and National Security Advisor Designate and Ambassador Susan Rice, National Security Advisor during a ceremonial passing of authority while participating in a conference on the transition of the US Presidency from Barack Obama to Donald Trump at the US Institute Of Peace in Washington DC, January 10, 2017. / AFP / CHRIS KLEPONIS (Photo credit should read CHRIS KLEPONIS/AFP/Getty Images)
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A former senior official at the company told NBC News that the company's U.S. federal government business is small, but the reputational damage from a federal ban would be huge. He said American employees had been leaving the company at a rapid pace in recent weeks.

It will take some time to stop the government from using Kaspersky products. The binding directive issued by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke ordered federal departments to identify any use or presence of Kaspersky products on their information systems in the next 30 days and to implement plans to remove them within 90 days, DHS said.

"This action is based on the information security risks presented by the use of Kaspersky products on federal information systems," the statement added.

DHS added that it is providing an opportunity for Kaspersky to submit a written response addressing the department's concerns or to mitigate those concerns.

Kaspersky Lab said in a statement that it doesn't have inappropriate ties with any government, and is disappointed with the DHS decision.

"No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization," the company said, adding that the DHS accusations "are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company. Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyberthreats, but it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russia."

The company added, "Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts, and it's disconcerting that a private company can be considered guilty until proven innocent, due to geopolitical issues. The company looks forward to working with DHS, as Kaspersky Lab ardently believes a deeper examination of the company will substantiate that these allegations are without merit."

A DHS official told NBC News that DHS itself does not use Kaspersky software. 

 

 

 

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