Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke ordered all government offices to remove and replace any of the company's popular anti-hacker software in use within 90 days.
A United States senator called for further restricting the use of the Russian software developer, Kaspersky Lab amid reports of the U.S. government's plans to limit the use of the company's products over its alleged ties to Russian intelligence services.
At a hearing of the Senate Intelligence Committee in May, six of the USA intelligence community's top officials all said they would not allow the use of Kaspersky software products in their systems.
But two months ago the news website Bloomberg reported it had seen emails between chief executive Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, outlining a secret cyber-security project apparently requested by the Russian intelligence service FSB.
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Kaspersky is a computer anti-virus software that is also used at various federal agencies to protect sensitive government information. For instance, Russian intelligence agencies can "compel assistance" from Russian companies to hand over information that passes through their networks.
The U.S. intelligence community has long assessed that Kaspersky has ties to the Russian government, according to officials who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations.
"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", a spokesperson for Kaspersky Lab said in a statement to the Washington Post.
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. However, it claimed this was because "U.S. government sales have not been a significant part of the company's activity in North America". The Defense Department doesn't generally use Kaspersky software in any case, officials there told the newspaper.
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"Kaspersky Lab has always acknowledged that it provides appropriate products and services to governments around the world to protect those organizations from cyberthreats, but it does not have unethical ties or affiliations with any government, including Russian Federation", the firm said.
The directive suggests the USA government puts some credence in reports that the popular antivirus company, and its founder Eugene Kaspersky, have close ties to Russian intelligence services.
On Friday, after news broke that the Federal Bureau of Investigation had reportedly urged American retailers to stop selling Kaspersky products, Best Buy became the first major American retailer to stop selling them.
"The truth is we don't know if Kaspersky has direct ties", he said.
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Kaspersky said it was disappointed by the decision but would attempt to prove that the allegations were unfounded.