Published: Tue, December 05, 2017
Research | By Clarence Powell

UK Warns Government Agencies not to use Kaspersky Software

The United Kingdom's National Cyber Security Centre has effectively banned the use of Russian anti-virus products from government departments and revealed it is trying to "prevent the transfer of UK data to the Russian state" from Kaspersky Labs software.

Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said "Russia is acting against the U.K.'s national interest in cyberspace".

US authorities are investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and some British lawmakers have called for a similar probe into the U.K.'s European Union membership referendum.

Mr Martin also said Russian hackers may have targeted the United Kingdom energy network, telecoms and the media this year. Martin goes on to explain that his center is "in discussions with Kaspersky Lab", to develop additional, independently verifiable measures to ensure that data from the United Kingdom isn't transmitted to Russian government.

However, his letter said most people and companies in the United Kingdom were not under threat of state-backed cyber attacks, but rather from criminal gangs.

In a letter dated Friday to civil service chiefs, he said Russian Federation seeks "to target United Kingdom central government and the U.K.'s critical national infrastructure".

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"In particular we are seeking verifiable measures to prevent the transfer of United Kingdom data to the Russian state".

A guidance note published last Friday and distributed to permanent secretaries of government departments, addressed "The issue of supply chain risk in cloud-based products, including anti-virus (AV) software" and explained "how departments should approach the issue of foreign ownership of AV suppliers".

He cautioned that "a Russia-based provider should never be used" for the security of vital systems.

The company's co-founder, Eugene Kaspersky, has denied any wrongdoing by the company, telling the BBC earlier this week: "It's not true that the Russian state has access to the data".

"We've made the precautionary decision to no longer offer Kaspersky software to new users". He goes on to note that "there's nearly no installed base of Kaspersky AV in central government", and that beyond that small existing number, "we see no compelling case at present to extend", to the general public.

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