Ban On Kaspersky Software Exposes The Hypocrisy Of US' Internet Agenda

Authored by Andrei Akulov via The Strategic Culture Foundation,

On September 18, the US Senate voted to ban the use of products from the Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab by the federal government, citing national security risk. The vote was included as an amendment to an annual defense policy spending bill approved by the Senate on the same day. The measure pushed forward by New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has strong support in the House of Representatives, which also must vote on a defense spending bill. The legislation bars the use of Kaspersky Lab software in government civilian and military agencies.

On September 13, a binding directive issued by Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Elaine Duke, ordered federal agencies to remove Kaspersky Lab products from government computers over concerns the Russia-based cybersecurity software company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence. All federal departments and agencies were given 30 days to identify any Kaspersky products in use on their networks. The departments have another 60 days to begin removal of the software. The statement says, «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 Russian law does not mention American networks, nevertheless it is used as a pretext to explain the concern.

Similar bans against US government use of Kaspersky products have been suggested before. In 2015, Bloomberg News reported that the company has «close ties to Russian spies».

According to US News, scrutiny of the company mounted in 2017, fueled by U.S. intelligence assessments and high-profile federal investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. This summer, the General Service Administration, which oversees purchasing by the federal government, removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors. In June, a proposal prohibiting the US military from using the company's products was reportedly included in the Senate's draft of the Department of Defense's budget rules. US intelligence leaders said earlier this year that Kaspersky Lab was already generally not allowed on military networks.

Kaspersky Lab has been producing widely lauded anti-virus software for 20 years. Today, it boasts 400 million customers around the world. Suspected of being involved in cyber espionage, the leading antivirus programs producer concluded that it was «caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight» and is 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». Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and CEO of Kaspersky Lab, has repeatedly denounced the allegations against his company as false and lacking credible or public evidence. He accepted the invitation to testify before the US House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. The testimony is scheduled on Sept. 27. Too late! Even if he proves that his company is innocent, the ban will be in force. It has been introduced without giving him a chance to speak on the issue and dissipate the fears.

Kaspersky highlighted that more than 85% of its revenue comes from outside Russia. The US measure will inevitably damage the company’s image and undermine the competitive position of the Russian company internationally. Best Buy has already said it will no longer sell software made by the Russian company.

All the decisions have been taken without giving the company a chance to openly address or mitigate the concerns. There has been no thorough investigation of its activities on US soil. No credible evidence has been presented to support the accusations. It all smacks of unfair competition. The Kaspersky Lab software is quite popular in the United States, and the company’s competitors will no doubt look to capitalize on this opportunity.

The move is part of anti-Russian hysteria that hit the United States. Kaspersky Lab has come under a politically-charged attack simply because it is Russian. Can anybody imagine Russia’s authorities saying that Apple and Microsoft were working hand in glove with the CIA and, therefore, their products were considered a security threat and should be banned?

A few months ago the authorities of New Hampshire, the state Jeanne Shaheen is from, were seriously considering a ban on Russian vodka imports and sales! Meanwhile, the US energy exporters use the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act to vie for the European energy market.

On August 14, President Trump signed a memorandum that directs US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine whether an investigation is needed into alleged unfair Chinese trade practices. The move represents the first step in a process that could allow the president to impose tariffs on Chinese imports or other punishing trade actions. The struggle for «fair trade practices» takes place against flagrant violations of international competition rules by the United States as illustrated by the unfair treatment of Kaspersky Lab.

At the same time, the US takes no measures against Microsoft, which is abusing its dominance in the PC operating system market, creating obstacles for independent software security vendors by distributing its own Defender anti-virus software with the ubiquitous Windows operating system.

The message has been sent. Hypocrisy at the core of US internet agenda is becoming untenable. It cannot continue to advocate for an open web, while at the same time using the tactics of unfair competition. The narrative that United States is the defender of free Internet appears to be dead.


pods A Nanny Moose Thu, 09/21/2017 - 06:43 Permalink

Kind of ironic that the reason I dropped Kaspersky was the fucking Best Buy bloatware always saying my license was up. First and last time I ever bought shit from BB. Kaspersky was good, although probably not needed behind a hardware firewall. Dumbass US will demonize the Russians while the chinks are making every chip on the planet. They are NOT our friends. pods

In reply to by A Nanny Moose

N2OJoe pods Thu, 09/21/2017 - 07:02 Permalink

I like my Kaspersky precisely because it's not captured by USGOV. Even if the Great Russian Witch Hunt of 2017 was all true, the US gov is still BY FAR the bigger threat to myself and my family.Too bad I already have all their relevant products for my systems and don't need to buy any more.

In reply to by pods

TheReplacement pods Thu, 09/21/2017 - 11:27 Permalink

You really should use an antimalware solution, even behind a firewall.  I prefer Avast, generally speaking.I agree that using foreign made/supported software/hardware by the government is a national security risk and that is also generally speaking and not simply in regard to the latest soap opera about Russia.  Of course, my way of seeing it would mean that neither Linux nor Windows would be useable for the obvious reason that the very people who work on those OSes are not of US citizenship.  It would be a conundrum.Now, about the chips in miltary hardware....

In reply to by pods

Metastatic Debt BarkingCat Thu, 09/21/2017 - 14:26 Permalink

I was akways suspicious of Russian software, Chinese laptops, US anything. They are all engaging in spyware of some sort. At least what The Russian Kasp does and finds won't be used against you.Some engineer I worked with (2016) did a very detailed analysis of the major Anti-Malware companies, and Kaspersky ranked the best for its ability to detect the bad stuff. $50k solution for a virtualized SAAS company.What won me over was this article. They found (((them))) snooping on their network.Kaspersky Finds New Nation-State Attack—In Its Own Network…

In reply to by BarkingCat

bluez Thu, 09/21/2017 - 03:47 Permalink

The Kaspersky antivirus product has been called the most difficult to circumvent by the malware hackers.The Russians and the Chinese are doing the same thing.In fact they are making their own CPU chips and circuit boards.I really don't blame any of them.Your computer was expressly designed to be vulnerable. In many, many ways.Your CPU master chip has an "outboard" silicon area with programmable flash memory that can access the internet directly all by itself.Did you think otherwise?

HRClinton Thu, 09/21/2017 - 03:56 Permalink

Check mate, Kaspersky!"Ivana Humpalot" Czech-mated Trump, and became Mrs. "Ivana Hump Trump" and mother to his first 3 kids (Don Jr, Ivanka and Eric). 

shinobi-7 Thu, 09/21/2017 - 03:59 Permalink

Kaspersky is selling products and it therefore should not be difficult to analyses the products and to specifically say what is wrong with them. But no, they are accused because: the Russia-based cybersecurity software company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence. How can you be more vague than this? And conversely how can Kaspersky prove the absence of evidence? A well known legal impossibility. We would have thought it impossible but here is it: The US is going back to mccarthyism, full speed!  

WTFUD floosy Thu, 09/21/2017 - 04:24 Permalink

The f 35 joint strike fighter the most expensive military investment in the history of the world, coming in at over $1 Trillion (and counting ) still can't fly . . . . can . . it's a long shot . . . be put down to Kaspersky. LOL I knew the Russians were scuppering that deal/gig in order to sell their own jets on the market and if it wasn't for those meddling kids . . .

In reply to by floosy

Deep In Vocal … Thu, 09/21/2017 - 04:03 Permalink

ooh and that patriot trump... ha ha ha....... i'm going to create a youtube video with campaign trump quotes vs president trump quotes...... rub it in your fucking faces.....dumb are nothing..... stuck in the matrix dont know how to are trapped.....