WASHINGTON – The US Department of Homeland Security prohibited government agencies on Wednesday from using software produced by Russian cybersecurity multinational Kaspersky Lab because of the possibility that the Kremlin could be using the firm to spy on the US.
“The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies,” DHS, which is tasked with US cybersecurity matters, said in a statement.
DHS also expressed special concern over Russian laws permitting that country’s intelligence agencies to request and collect information from Kaspersky.
“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,” said DHS.
The order prohibiting the use of Kaspersky software was issued by Acting DHS Secretary Elaine Duke, who on Wednesday signed a directive on the matter.
According to the directive, government departments and agencies must identify the use or the presence of Kaspersky products in their computers or other electronic devices within 30 days and then, within 60 days, must develop plans to eliminate those products.
Then, in 90 days, Kaspersky software will begin to be eliminated from all computers, tablets, mobile telephones and other electronic devices owned and/or operated by the US government.
The decision comes several months after the US General Services Administration, which is tasked with making federal government purchases, removed Kaspersky from the list of companies that may supply various kinds of software, including antivirus programs.
The US has linked Russia with significant cyberattacks, including the one suffered last year by the Democratic National Committee.
As a result of that July 2016 attack, WikiLeaks published more than 19,000 controversial e-mails in which Democratic Party officials discuss tactics to defeat Sen. Bernie Sanders, the rival of Hillary Clinton for the party’s presidential nomination, in the primaries.
Clinton – who became the Democratic presidential nominee – ultimately went down to defeat at the hands of Donald Trump in the November election.