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Senate votes Kaspersky Lab off its networks

by on19 September 2017

It is Putin’s pawn

The US Senate voted to ban Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab’s products from use by the federal government, claiming that it may be a pawn of the Kremlin and poses a national security risk.

Kaspersky Lab is a 20-year-old anti-virus company that reaches 400 million customers globally and has vigorously denied that it conducts espionage on behalf of the Russian government.

The vote, which was included as an amendment to an annual defence policy spending bill approved by the Senate, seeks to codify and expand a decision by the Trump administration last week to order civilian government agencies to purge from their networks any Kaspersky Lab products.

Trump is rather keen to prove that he is not Putin’s sock puppet after he and most of his advisors are being investigated over deals done with Russia during the elections.

The rest of the Senate is worried about Moscow’s capabilities to conduct cyber espionage following a 2016 presidential contest that was marred Russian interference.

But Eugene Kaspersky has repeatedly denounced the allegations against his company as false and lacking credible or public evidence.

He accepted an invitation to testify to US lawmakers later this month about the security of his products, but said he would need an expedited visa to come across.

Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who has led efforts in Congress to blacklist Kaspersky Lab, said in a statement that the prohibition “removes a real vulnerability to our national security”.

She added that the amendment had strong support in the House of Representatives, which also must vote on a defence spending bill, and that she expected it would soon be signed into law.

The bill would bar the use of Kaspersky Lab in civilian and military agencies. The directive issued by the Trump administration last week applies only to civilian government agencies and not the Pentagon, but US intelligence leaders said earlier this year that Kaspersky Lab was already generally not allowed on military networks.

Last modified on 19 September 2017
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