15% of federal agencies have Kremlin-linked Kaspersky Lab software on systems: Report

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Kaspersky Lab was deemed a potential U.S. national security threat in September, and now most government agencies have determined whether the company could have access to their systems.

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About 15% of federal agencies have identified at least traces of Kaspersky Lab software on their systems, a Department of Homeland Security official told Congress on Tuesday, as reported by Reuters.

In September, the Department of Homeland Security issued a binding operational directive to all federal agencies and departments to remove Kaspersky Lab software due to concerns over potential national security risks. The U.S. government is worried about the company’s ties to the Russian government and spies within the country.

So far, 94% of companies have completed the review and responded to the request, the DHS official said on Tuesday. All departments had 30 days to identify the presence of the products within their agencies and 90 days to discontinue use and remove the software from their systems, per the Trump administration’s directive.

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Last month, Kaspersky Lab’s chief Eugene Kaspersky admitted to accessing classified digital surveillance tools from a U.S. government computer in 2014 and sending it to servers in Moscow. Kaspersky said the company’s analysts were tracking a powerful group of hackers and were triggered by an alert on a computer an NSA employee took home. The information, he said, was promptly deleted and not sent to any third parties.

In a congressional hearing conducted by House lawmakers in October, one of the witnesses said the nature of Kaspersky’s software, as a complete network monitoring solution, allows visibility into all of their client networks, providing them with a “wide open front door.” The same witness added that telecommunication and monitoring laws in Russia, along with “willful interest in an adversarial context” and the access posed by Kaspersky Lab is a “potent combination.”

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Kaspersky is the world’s largest private cybersecurity company, offering tailored solutions to fight deep threats and sophisticated, evolving digital threats. The company boasts a clientele of more than 400 million consumers and 270,000 corporate users, in addition to government clients, according to its website. Kaspersky operates across 200 countries and territories.

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