A few weeks ago, Kapersky made international headlines when the Russian based company announced that they would be turning over the source code of their anti-virus software to the United States Government for review. At the time, considering that the company is widely regarded as one of the industries best cyber security companies, Kaperksy was heavily criticized for the move, with many customers fearing that the United States Government only sought the source code so that they could develop secret back-doors to bypass the software in the future, similar in many ways to what they had done to Microsoft Systems in the past.
As reported by Wired Magazine on July 8th 2016, “After weeks of comments from US Congress members and officials about potential ties between Russian government intelligence and the Russian security software maker Kaspersky Lab,” Kapersky CEO Eugene Kaspersky announced that he was willing to hand over the company source code to the United Stated Government in order to “foster trust” with the country. At the time, it was believed that the Russian company could have been colluding with the Russian Government by embedding weaknesses or areas of exploitation and then giving them exclusive access to the information.
Russian Spying Allegations Update: Kaspersky CEO Agrees to Turn Over Source Code https://t.co/BqZ1TATEzQ
— Espionage News (@EspionageNews) July 9, 2017
Taking the US Government at their word though, the FBI and DHS did not want to compromise the source code or develop secret back-doors to it, rather, these agencies simply wanted to “review” if any glitches may have existed within it. As it turns out, less than a week after first obtaining the codes, the United States Government has already decided to ban Kapersky from Federal use in the future.
As reported by Softpedia News on July 14th 2017, “The United States government has decided to ban software developed by Russian company Kaspersky Lab due to possible ties to Kremlin and collaboration with local intelligence services.” Explaining that “The General Services Administration has confirmed for that Kaspersky is no longer an approved software vendor, which basically means that state departments and federal agencies in the United States are not allowed to buy software from the Russian security vendor.”
In a statement available on their website dated July 11th 2017, Kapersky denied any and all allegations that the company had granted special privileges to any countries Government, particularly Russia. In their release, the company points out that they are licensed in 120 different countries and had recently helped US, German and French police track down and arrest cyber criminals whom had been exploiting civilians primarily living in those countries. At the time of this article, Kapersky has yet to respond to the US ban on their products.
— CSOonline (@CSOonline) July 11, 2017
Are the US & Russia headed towards a digital Cold War?
Even if US – Russian relations are beginning to warm up under Donald Trump and the President is willing to overlook the fact that Russia may or may not have meddled in the 2016 election, today’s announcement from the General Services Administration is adding to a trend which has largely gone unnoticed in popular US headlines.
In November 2016, as reported by The Daily Proletariat, the Kremlin announced that it would be banning all computer systems from American based tech giant Microsoft in the future, joining countries such as China which had already banned Microsoft following the leaks of Edward Snowden in 2015. Much like the US’s fears about Kapersky over recent weeks, in November of last year, Russian authorities believed “that the country urgently needs protection from cyberattacks and thinks that software developed by American companies, such as Microsoft, could hide backdoors and bugs that could help other nations spy on their plans.” At the time, Russia’s Executive Secretary of the State Duma’s Commission on Strategic Information Systems, Andrey Chernogorov, was even quoted as saying that “
Using foreign software is like giving up on our army. It’s a matter of national security, not replacing foreign IT would be equivalent to dismissing the army.”
Adding to the politicized back and forth between the two countries, US Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, Mark Warner, is on public record in 2017 as saying that popular Russian news agency RT is nothing more than a “Russian propaganda outlet,” and has criticized American companies such as Google for ever doing business with them in the first place. Other US allies, such as Britain, have taken it a step further and have gone on to close the bank accounts belonging to RT in the country, while also banning British banks from doing business with the company in the future. Now in 2017, Russian media outlets are calling Bloomberg News an American propaganda in its own right, and are similarly calling for it to be banned from the country.
Regardless where this issue goes from here, it is important to note that only the US and Russian Governments have banned Kapersky and Microsoft respectively. Meaning that these products are only banned for Government use and civilians are still allowed to purchase these products if they desire.
Categories: Hacking News