Moscow-based cyber security firm Kaspersky Lab has found itself on the wrong end of some U.S. senatorial oversight. Yesterday, a group of U.S. senators began pushing to ban the use of Kaspersky products by military organizations over concerns the company is susceptible to “Russian government influence.”
The move comes a day after the FBI began probing the firm’s operations by interviewing employees. Kaspersky has confirmed FBI officials have had “brief interactions” with some of its U.S. employees — conversations it has thus far written off as “due diligence.”
A recently-passed defense spending policy bill would prohibit the U.S. Defense Department from using Kaspersky software platforms because the company “might be vulnerable to Russian government influence,” according to a summary of the legislation.
Democratic Senator Jeanne Shaheen, who added the Kaspersky language to the bill, notes that the “ties between Kaspersky Lab and the Kremlin are very alarming.” There is also an increasingly common view among congressional and administration representatives that “Kaspersky” cannot be trusted to protect critical infrastructure, particularly computer systems vital to our nation’s security,” according to Shaheen.
It is not yet clear if the investigation of Kaspersky is related to an investigation of the Trump administration and its alleged collusion with Russian efforts to meddle in the U.S. election.
Kaspersky founder and Chief Executive Eugene Kaspersky had said he is willing to appear before the Senate to dispel any concerns about his company’s products. Kaspersky has long denied it has connections to any government — Russia’s or otherwise — and that claims they are secretly supporting Russian espionage are false.
“Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations,” the Lab noted in a released statement yesterday, before noting that in its 20-year history, the company has abided by “the highest ethical business practices.”