There is a blanket warning applying to all federal agencies over concerns of possible Russian espionage by one of the most popular cybersecurity companies.
According to a statement provided by the Department of Homeland Security to the Washington Post: "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 us national security". At time of publication, the software company is yet to make a public statement; we've requested comment from Kaspersky, and will update if and when that happens.
The Trump administration on Wednesday told United States government agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab products from their information systems, saying it was concerned the Moscow-based cyber security firm was vulnerable to Kremlin influence.
According to the report, in newsletter The Bell, the firm may shutter its Kaspersky Government Security Solutions office as government agencies - who are among the world's biggest buyers of cybersecurity tools - are effectively banned from using its services. Eugene Kaspersky, the firm's founder, has also been scrutinized for his education at a computer science institute backed by the KGB, the Soviet-era spy angency. "The company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole objective of fighting cybercrime".
Kaspersky Lab's statements ignore the fact that it faces a wider backlash after retailer Best Buy withdrew its products from its shelves. In response to questioning from Reuters, a spokesperson said: "As we evaluated the technology, we decided it was a risk we couldn't accept". The executives told BuzzFeed News that there was little evidence that Kaspersky was inappropriately beholden to the Russian Federation government.
At the end of its full statement on the issue, available here, DHS states that it will allow Kaspersky and "any other entity that claims its commercial interests will be directly impacted" to submit a written argument along with any evidence or data that could offset the USA government's concerns.
Kaspersky has repeatedly denied that it has ties to any government and said it would not help any government with cyber espionage.
In a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday, the company said: "Kaspersky Lab doesn't have inappropriate ties with any government, which is why no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization to back up the false allegations made against the company". "And while there haven't been articles that have come out saying the same thing about U.S. based companies, you have to understand that it's gotta be true of us here as well".
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.
But it hasn't given up.
In a Tuesday statement, Kaspersky said it was "exploring opportunities to better optimize" the D.C. office.
"It's such a tight turnaround for us!" Joyce said those concerns were a factor but that a "tough decision" ultimately had to be made to protect government systems.