US Government bans agencies from using Kaspersky Anti-virus

Kaspersky Lab antivirus firm used by countless Britons ‘is controlled by Russian secret service’

  • Kaspersky Lab’s cyber-security software is used by millions of users and companies around the globe
  • Last year it was banned for use by US federal bodies amid Russian spying fears
  • Whistle-blower has now claimed the firm is controlled by Russian intelligence
  • Source says it accessed confidential files belonging to Britain’s Gamma Group
  • Kaspersky Lab has always vehemently denied that it is helping Moscow spy on other countries 

 

The US government issued an interim rule on the 18th of June 2018, prohibiting any Government agencies from using products or services that have pretty much anything to do with the Russian based anti-virus organisation, Kaspersky Lab.

The Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) comes into effect from 16 July 2018 and is a result of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which prohibits any part of the US Federal government from using the antivirus vendor’s security products. Any solicitations issued on or after 16 July will include an anti-Kaspersky clause and anything issued before will need modifications to reflect the US government’s stance.

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The FAR for the Department of Defense (DoD), the General Services Administration (GSA) and NASA also applies to any companies contracted by the agencies. So any company part of the supply chain will have to ensure there is no trace of Kaspersky Lab’s software on any equipment doing government work.

A source, who spent a substantial chunk of his career dealing with contracts for the UK’s Ministry of Defence, told The Register that such clauses were nothing unusual and recalled rooms or even buildings full of workstations cleaned to government requirements, with snap audits by officials being commonplace.

It is likely that third parties will simply stop using any  of Kaspersky Lab’s software in order to avoid a hitch in their supply.  Naturally, this is going to have a huge impact on the Russian software vendor, which is already desperately engaged in legal action against the ban. However, so far their cases have been thrown out of court.

Last year, Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre warned government departments not to use it on systems that contain official secrets. It was also banned for use by US federal bodies amid claims it had been used by Russian spies to gain access to National Security Agency files.

A whistleblower has now claimed that the firm is controlled by Russian intelligence and that it has been able to access confidential files belonging to the British company, Gamma Group. Kaspersky denies the claims.

Things are not looking good for Kaspersky Lab, who has already been battered by a European vote earlier this week.

New European Parliament document calls out Kaspersky Lab software as ‘malicious’ and says it should be banned.

Kaspersky Lab, in response to a resolution adopted by the European Parliament this week, has temporarily halted any collaboration with Europol in cybercrime cases, as well as its participation in a global anti-ransomware effort. On June 13 2018, the European Parliament adopted a strategy for a joint European Union (EU) cybersecurity defence that includes calls for a review of software and IT equipment in EU agencies and to ban “malicious” products, specifically citing Kaspersky Lab software as an example:

“Calls on the EU to perform a comprehensive review of software, IT and communications equipment and infrastructure used in the institutions in order to exclude potentially dangerous programmes and devices, and to ban the ones that have been confirmed as malicious, such as Kaspersky Lab”

The Moscow-based cybersecurity firm has pushed back hard, temporarily halting its work with Europol in cybercrime cases, as well as the NoMoreRansom project that provides free tools for decrypting systems and data hit with ransomware attacks. However, I am guessing that if their software is suspect then their participation is probably not currently wanted until they can clear their name and their software.

As they say, when there is a lot of smoke (and there is a lot of smoke), there is probably fire somewhere. You may not think you have any secrets on your computer but cyber criminals are after a lot of different prizes. Have a look below for some possible reasons they want your computer!

This all kicked off in December last year when the NSA lost some highly sensitive data. You can read more in this report. However, going back as far as 2011, things seem to change after Russian police rescued the kidnapped son of Eugene Kaspersky, founder of Kaspersky Lab, in an operation that led to the arrest of five suspects. The kidnappers had asked for $4.3 million in ransom for the release of his then 20 year old son.  The Moscow-based firm confirmed that an operation to free Ivan Kaspersky was carried out successfully by the Federal Security Service (FSB), the Criminal Investigation Department of the Moscow Police as well as Kaspersky Lab’s own security personnel. When in an extremely desperate and stressful situation, there is the possibility of a deal being struck; you help me, I will help you.

We use Panda Anti-virus which is a Spanish company. We have over 500 end points protected by Panda and (touch wood) tends to be pain and spy free. It does not impact on the computer in terms of a performance cost and has very good protection rates. Feel free to have a chat to us about replacing your Kaspersky or if you need any further advice.

I have no secrets that the Russians could possibly want?

There a lot of different reasons why a 3rd party would want access to your computer. Here are just a few;

  1. Set up bit coin mining in the background making your computer very slow
  2. Put software on that monitors everything you do thereby stealing your bank login details and other website login info (email)
  3. Steal any “interesting” files on your computer – maybe blackmail you with any naked photos?
  4. Control your computer and use it as part of a very organised mass attack against a specific website or business
  5. Install ransomware on your computer, encrypts (locks) all your files and you have to pay money to get them back
  6. There is a billion dollar under ground market for hacking. Once a computer is compromised, it can be sold on the market so that people can run tools of their choice on your computer and essentially do whatever they want to
  7. Identity theft / fraud – Get your bank details, your address, National Insurance number and so on

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