Kaspersky Lab Hits U.S. Government With Lawsuit Over Antivirus Software Ban

A popular antivirus vendor is at odds with the United States government over ties with Russia, and things have turned ugly. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a government ban on any and all Kaspersky software, giving civilian government agencies 90 days to remove Kaspersky software completely from their networks. In response, Kaspersky has filed a lawsuit against DHS, claiming the ban was unjustified.

DHS issued the ban over concerns of Russian interference, and fear that Kaspersky might be colluding with Russia to spy on US intelligence agencies. The ban and subsequent lawsuit follows an investigation by the FBI earlier this summer, which resulted in the agency advising companies to sever ties with Kaspersky apps. At the time, a Kaspersky spokesperson called the reported briefings "extremely disappointing" and the spying accusations "meritless."

Image Source: Flickr via David Orban

"DHS’s actions have caused undue damage to both the company’s reputation in the IT security industry and its sales in the U.S. It has unfairly called into question Kaspersky Lab’s fundamental principles of protecting its customers and combating cyber threats, regardless of their origin or purpose," Kaspersky stated in a blog post. "In filing this appeal, Kaspersky Lab hopes to protect its due process rights under the U.S. Constitution and federal law and repair the harm caused to its commercial operations, its U.S.-based employees, and its U.S.-based business partners."

Kaspersky can point to electronics retailer Best Buy pulling its software from store shelves (physical and virtual) not long after reports surface of an FBI investigation. That decision was also based on fears of Russian spying, though no hard evidence has been presented to date (that we're aware of). According to Kaspersky, the DHS's decision to ban its software was based on subjective, non-technical public sources, including uncorroborated media reports and related rumors.

"Because Kaspersky Lab has not been provided a fair opportunity in regards to the allegations and no technical evidence has been produced to validate DHS’s actions, it is in the company’s interests to defend itself in this matter. Regardless of the DHS decision, we will continue to do what really matters: make the world safer from cybercrime," said Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab.

The ban puts Kaspersky in a tough spot. Even if Kaspersky wins its lawsuit, it's not a given that civilian government agencies would be eager to reinstall the company's security software. Part of what's unfortunate about the whole situation is that Kaspersky generally has a favorable history at detecting and removing malware.