Kaspersky faces crisis as cyber-security firm is banned in several nations

Kaspersky, a cybersecurity and anti-virus provider headquartered in Moscow, Russia, is facing a huge crisis ever since it was banned by the US government over fears that the firm has ties to state-sponsored spying programs.
Kaspersky HQ RussiaJeanette Manfra, who is the DHS Assistant Secretary for the Office of Cybersecurity and Communications, stated that the requirements under Russian law allow agencies to compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks. This means that the Kaspersky products as well as their legal obligations under Russian law, pose a sufficient danger to the country’s federal networks.

Kaspersky officials in India have refused to comment on the recent controversies when InfotechLead.com approached them.

Kaspersky’s official response to the ban was to repeatedly deny that it has ties to any government, or Russia for that matter. In October it even said that the company would submit a source code of its software for inspection. It also claims to be a company that protects its customers from cyber threats, collaborates with the IT security community, and helps fight cyber-crime.

However, other government agencies apart from the U. S. had removed Kaspersky products from their networks in compliance with the September order, which suggests that U. S. government agencies have 90 days to start removing Kaspersky software from their systems.

This did not stop Kaspersky from stating that there was no credible evidence presented, as the accusations are based on false allegations.

However, two months before the actual ban, Bloomberg reported that it had seen emails between chief executive Eugene Kaspersky and senior Kaspersky staff, outlining a secret cyber-security project. The contents consisted of cyber-attacks and information about the hackers launching them.

Although Kaspersky has fought back with demands for why the U. S. wouldn’t just ban its antivirus software, rather that everything that bears the company’s name.

On April 16, the U.S. government filed a motion to dismiss one of two lawsuits filed by Russian-based antivirus and cyber-security firm. This has resulted in the value of Kaspersky’s software sales to the U.S. government to fall 61 percent in the fourth quarter of 2017.

In April, Twitter also banned Kaspersky for conflicts with Twitter Ads business. Kaspersky answered back with a tweet stating they haven’t violated any rules, and their business model is quite simply the same template business model that’s used throughout the whole cyber-security industry.

Eugene Kaspersky demands a full explanation for the decision to call out their advertising capability, and to reveal what other cyber-security companies need to do in order to avoid similar situations.

The judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly must now either request arguments or issue a ruling based on the materials. The first case challenges the ban issued by Homeland Security Department, in September after stating that Kaspersky was too closely tied to the Russian government and that its products might be used to spy on U.S. officials and operations.

In this case, Kaspersky and Homeland Security are both seeking judgment, which means one side is clearly legally correct and there’s no reason to argue further.

On the other hand, Kaspersky is also challenging  the U. S. government with a defense policy bill stating that the U.S. government is punishing the company because of broader geopolitical conflicts between the U.S. and Russia. If Kaspersky prevails in either case, it would allow for a trial in which the company can publicly display its grievances with the U.S. ban.

Kaspersky has been under increased scrutiny for more than a year and has faced serious consequences. This year, other governments have also followed the decision of U.S. Homeland Security ban on the use of Kaspersky software.

These governments include Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre, who claims that the use of Russian anti-virus software could help Russia target classified information, and the Dutch government who said the decision was made because the Russian government had an offensive cyber program.

Ducth Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus also said that Moscow-based Kaspersky was subject to Russian laws that could oblige it to comply with Russian state interests and cause harm to their government.

The question regarding whether the company is an arm of Russian’s government or a victim of US protectionist propaganda remains unanswered because no proof has yet been offered by anyone. Carrying out these accusations with no  national security risks being made public, would be reckless of the U. S. Government. This means that Kaspersky continues to state that it has done nothing wrong.

On 16 May 2018, Kaspersky Lab started to relocate its operations to Switzerland, to eradicate claims that its products are being used to spy on users by the Russian government. Along with the move, the company ensures that an independent third party will be employed to supervise its processes and that there will exist full transparency within its working.

Yadawanka Pala

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