Kaspersky Lab logo (file photo)

The United States federal agencies are not allowed to use software made by the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, the US Department of Homeland Security says.
In a new binding directive issued on Wednesday, Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke gave federal agencies three months to begin the process of removing the software from their networks, citing an effort to maintain “national security.”

Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke (C) speaks to reporters during a news conference at Ellington Airport on September 6, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by AFP)
“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,” the department said in a statement, further expressing concerns “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.”
Washington has previously voiced concerns that the software would give the Kremlin backdoor access to the US systems, an allegation denied by Kaspersky.
“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,” Kaspersky said Wednesday. “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.”
In a declassified report released in January, the US intelligence community concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election that yielded President Donald Trump.

US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump, senior advisor Jared Kushner (L) and Ivanka Trump observe a moment of silence on September 11, 2017, at the White House during the 16th anniversary of 9/11.  (Photo by AFP)
An investigation has been launched to find out whether the Russian government coordinated with Trump’s associates during the 2016 campaign and transition.
The new directive could complicate the back-and-forth between the two states even further.
According to Christopher Krebs, a senior DHS official in the National Protection and Programs Directorate, Kaspersky “poses an unacceptable amount of risk based on our assessment… If they want to provide additional information or mitigation strategies, our door is open.”

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