FBI Reportedly Advising Companies To Sever Ties With Kaspersky Apps

Antivirus maker Kaspersky Lab may have kissed and made up with Microsoft over a dispute in how Windows 10 handles third-party AV software, but even so companies are reportedly being warned not to use the security software. The warning comes from the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), according to CyberScoop, which says it spoke with both current and former senior US officials who are familiar with the matter.

The perceived threat is a familiar one in the software industry—government spying. In this case, Kaspersky Lab is headquartered in Moscow, Russia. Apparently US intelligence officials have long suspected that Russian spy agencies have been gathering intelligence on a global scale through Kaspersky and its Internet security applications. As such, the FBI is said to be urging US firms to avoid using Kaspersky products.

Image Source: Flickr (Dave Newman)

Among consumers in the tech industry, Kaspersky has a pretty solid reputation as a defender against malware. The company's antivirus products generally perform well in tests, including those performed by independent testing laboratories such as AV-Test, AV Comparatives, and Virus Bulletin. But as far as the FBI is concerned, Kaspersky has a history of sketchy behavior, such as allegedly faking malware to sabotage the competition.

A Kaspersky spokesperson downplayed the "meritless" accusations to CyberScoop, blaming them on "disgruntled, former company employees." However, the FBI maintains in private that it knows the incident happened and that Kaspersky gave it the green light.

These are not new concerns tied to Kaspersky. Earlier this year, a US congressional panel asked federal government agencies to share documents on Kaspersky Lab over concerns the company's products could be used for "nefarious activities" against the US. Prior to that, the General Services Administration removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors. There has also been a push in Congress to ban Kaspersky from being used by the Department of Defense.

Here is what Kaspersky had to say about all that:
If these briefings are actually occurring, it’s extremely disappointing that a government agency would take such actions against a law-abiding and ethical company like Kaspersky Lab. The company doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, which is why no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organization to back up the false allegations made against Kaspersky Lab. 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 cyber-espionage or offensive cyber efforts.
Government spying through the use of consumer software has been a big concern for a long while now, though it is just Kaspersky that has drawn the attention of the FBI. So have companies operating out of China, such as Blu Products, whose smartphones were recently removed by Amazon on its website. In turn, Chinese officials have been wary of the US and at one pointed booted Apple, Intel, and Cisco from the government's approved purchase list.