Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security adviser, was paid $11,250 for a 2015 speaking engagement in Washington for Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc., a USA subsidiary of Kaspersky Lab. Flynn was sacked by the Trump administration in February after providing misleading statements about his contacts with Russian officials.
Kaspersky Labs has been invited to comment on the directive with a written response, the Department of Homeland Security said today.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is ordering federal agencies and departments to stop using software produced by Russian firm Kaspersky Lab, citing potential risks to US national security.
Elaine Duke, the department's acting secretary, issued a binding operational directive on Wednesday ordering federal executive bodies to identify any Kaspersky cybersecurity products on their information systems within the next 30 days and come up with "detailed plans" to remove the security software. "The only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab, a private company, is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, and it's being treated unfairly even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts".
The DHS cited "information security risks" posed by the presence of Kaspersky software on federal information systems, explaining that Kaspersky products "provide broad access to files and elevated privileges on the computers on which the software is installed, which can be exploited by malicious cyber actors to compromise those information systems".
Those offices, home to the Kaspersky Lab subsidiary KGSS that is dedicated to the US federal market, were empty when a Reuters reporter visited them in July. But the Defense Department, which includes the National Security Agency, does not generally use Kaspersky software, officials said. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., is pushing legislation to prohibit the federal government from using products made by Kaspersky Lab, which she said has "extensive ties to Russian intelligence". The Department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks.
The order applies only to civilian government networks, not the military's.
The decision comes at a time when the United States government has jitters about Russian efforts to interfere with the USA presidential election.
Company founder Eugene Kaspersky has for years been under scrutiny both for his early education at a KGB-run school, but also because of suspicions that the company has the quiet backing of Russian security agencies, like the Federal Security Service (FSB).
DHS said it has provided Kaspersky an opportunity to address these concerns.
Longstanding suspicions about the company grew in the United States when U.S. -Russia relations deteriorated following Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and later when U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Russian Federation interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election using cyber means.