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Kaspersky: US government removes Russian security software

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Longstanding suspicions about the company grew in the United States when U.S. -Russia relations deteriorated following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and later when U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election using cyber means.

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke announced in a binding directive issued Wednesday a total ban on the use of any products in the federal government engineered by AO Kaspersky Lab, a Russian-based company that develops antivirus software, among other things. Kaspersky responded that it and its employees "do not have inappropriate ties with any government".

"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 USA national security", Duke said. Jeanne Shaheen's defense budget bill amendment to ban Kaspersky products in the federal government is now redundant, which for Shaheen is a welcome outcome. "The company does regularly work with governments and law enforcement agencies around the world with the sole goal of fighting cybercrime".

The US-owned Best Buy chain sazid it would no longer sell Kaspersky products. Several other retailers that carry Kaspersky, including Amazon and Newegg, declined to confirm to BuzzFeed News that they were committed to continue to selling the firm's products. In response to questioning from Reuters, a spokesperson said: "As we evaluated the technology, we decided it was a risk we couldn't accept".

Executives at some American cybersecurity companies questioned the blacklisting of one of the world's most renowned cybersecurity companies.

There have been concerns about Kaspersky's ties to the Russian government for years including some specifically targeting its CEO, Eugene Kaspersky.

US officials have been wary of Kaspersky Lab's ties to the Russian government and state-sponsored cyberespionage-a concern that has only ramped up in the wake of the 2016 presidential election, which Russia appear to interfere with.

Under scrutiny, Kaspersky Lab considers changes to US subsidiary

"The reason all this drama is happening is because there were articles that came out indicating that Kaspersky had ties to the Russian government", said Dan Tentler, founder of Phobos Group.

"No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization as the accusations are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including claims about the impact of Russian regulations and policies on the company", the company said. It also complained that it's being treated unfairly, and that it's never helped any government in cyberespionage.

But it hasn't given up.

Citing two unidentified sources, The Bell, a Russian-language news outlet, said on Tuesday that Kaspersky Lab was considering closing its offices in Arlington, Virginia, a Washington suburb.

Reached for comment soon after the DHS statement, a Kaspersky spokesperson indicated that despite grumblings from the United States, it caught the company off guard.

"Under Russian law that company must collaborate with the FSB", Rob Joyce, Trump's top cyber adviser, said during remarks at the Billington Cybersecurity Summit in Washington.

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