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Kaspersky Lab Sues U.S. Government Over Software Ban

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Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab has taken the United States government to a U.S. federal court for its decision to ban the use of Kaspersky products in federal agencies and departments.

In September 2017, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a Binding Operational Directive (BOD) ordering civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab software from their computers and networks within 90 days.

The order came amid mounting concern among United States officials that the Kaspersky antivirus software could be helping Russian government spy on their activities, which may threaten the U.S. national security.

U.S. President Donald Trump also signed into law last week legislation that bans the use of Kaspersky products within the U.S. government, capping a months-long effort to purge Kaspersky from federal agencies amid concerns it’s vulnerable to Kremlin influence.

The Kaspersky’s appeal is part of an ongoing campaign by the company to refute allegations that the company is vulnerable to Russian influence.

Moreover, there’s no substantial evidence yet available which can prove these allegations, but an article published by US media WSJ in October claimed that Kaspersky software helped Russian spies steal highly classified documents and hacking tools belonging to the NSA in 2015 from a staffer’s home PC.

Just last month, Kaspersky claimed that its antivirus package running on the staffer’s PC detected the copies of the NSA exploits as malware and uploaded them to its cloud for analysis, but its analysts immediately deleted them.

Earlier this month, the NSA staffer, identified as Nghia Hoang Pho, a 67-year-old of Ellicott City, Maryland, pleaded guilty to illegally taking classified documents home, which were later stolen by Russian hackers.

Kaspersky Lab Challenges DHS’s Ban on its Software in U.S. Court

Underlining that U.S. authorities have not provided any substantial evidence of wrongdoing by the company, CEO Eugene Kaspersky wrote in an open letter to the Homeland Security agency on Monday, stressing that the “DHS’s decision is unconstitutional” and based purely on “subjective, non-technical public sources.”

“One of the foundational principles enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, which I deeply respect, is due process: the opportunity to contest any evidence and defend oneself before the government takes adverse action,” Kaspersky wrote. 

“Unfortunately, in the case of Binding Operational Directive 17-01, DHS did not provide Kaspersky Lab with a meaningful opportunity to be heard before the Directive’s issuance, and therefore, Kaspersky Lab’s due process rights were infringed.”

Kaspersky argues that the company was not given enough time to contest allegations before the DHS issued a ban, and that the documents available at the time of the ban were based more on references than a technical threat that the company could analyze and respond to.

The company also said that it wrote to DHS in mid-July to address any concerns the U.S. agency had, and DHS even acknowledged receipt of the communication in mid-August, appreciating the company’s offer to provide information on the matter.

Kaspersky: DHS Harmed Kaspersky Lab’s Reputation

However, Kaspersky said the agency did not follow up with the company “until the notification regarding the issuance of Binding Operational Directive 17-01” and accusing Kaspersky products of causing infosec risks on federal information systems.

“DHS has harmed Kaspersky Lab’s reputation, negatively affected the livelihoods of its U.S.-based employees and U.S.-based business partners, and undermined the company’s contributions to the broader cybersecurity community,” Kaspersky wrote.

“In filing this appeal, Kaspersky Lab hopes to protect its due process rights under the US Constitution and federal law and repair the harm caused to its commercial operations, its US-based employees, and its US-based business partners.” 

CEO Eugene Kaspersky has repeatedly denied the company’s ties to any government and said it would not help a government with cyber espionage, adding that “If the Russian government comes to me and asks me to anything wrong, or my employees, I will move the business out of Russia.”

In October, it was also reported that Israeli government hackers hacked into Kaspersky‘s network in 2015 and caught Russian hackers red-handed hacking United States government with the help of Kaspersky software.

In the wake of this incident, Kaspersky Lab also launched a transparency initiative late October, giving partners access to its antivirus source code and paying large bug bounties for security issues discovered in its products.

Source : THN

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Founder and Editor-in-Chief of 'Professional Hackers India'. Technology Evangelist, Security Analyst, Cyber Security Expert, PHP Developer and Part time hacker.

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