Kaspersky Lab asks court to overturn U.S. government software ban

The logo of Russia's Kaspersky Lab is on displayat the company's office in Moscow
The logo of Russia's Kaspersky Lab is on displayat the company's office in Moscow, Russia October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

December 18, 2017

By Dustin Volz and Jim Finkle

WASHINGTON/TORONTO (Reuters) – Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab said on Monday it has asked a U.S. federal court to overturn a Trump administration ban on use of its products in government networks, saying the move deprived the company of due process.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in September issued a directive ordering civilian government agencies to remove Kaspersky software from their networks within 90 days. It came amid mounting concern among U.S. officials that the software could enable Russian espionage and threaten national security.

The appeal is part of an ongoing campaign by Kaspersky to refute allegations the company is vulnerable to Kremlin influence. The company has repeatedly denied it has ties to any government and said it would not help a government with cyber espionage.

“DHS has harmed Kaspersky Lab’s reputation and its commercial operations without any evidence of wrongdoing by the company,” the company’s founder, Eugene Kaspersky, said in an open letter to the Homeland Security agency published on Monday.

The department did not respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit alleges that the government largely relied on uncorroborated news media reports as evidence in a review of Kaspersky software. It asks the court to overturn the ban and also declare that the Russian company’s products do not pose a security threat to U.S. government computers.

The value of Kaspersky’s software sales to the U.S. government totaled less than $54,000, or about 0.03 percent of its U.S. subsidiary’s sales in the United States, according to the complaint.

Still, the allegations about the software have hurt its much bigger consumer software business, prompting retailers such as Best Buy Co to pull Kaspersky products.

Kaspersky said in October that it would submit the source code of its software and future updates for inspection by independent parties. U.S. officials have said that step, while welcome, would not be sufficient.

The September DHS order applied only to civilian government agencies and not the Pentagon. U.S. intelligence agencies said earlier this year that Kaspersky products were already generally not allowed on military networks.

(Reporting by Dustin Volz in Washington and Jim Finkle in Toronto; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

  • Sagev Sal

    I told people when Kaspersky first hit the US market to leave it alone. Why would anyone want a “security system” on their computer or network created by a company from the country with the highest hacking rate in the world? I have never used not will I ever use Russian software on my system or any networks I manage.

  • NJLamer

    A software company Sues America for access to their computers. A Russian Software Company. Someone ask Hillary clinton if its ok.

  • RMCS Ret.

    I don’t know all I know about this, here’s what I think I know. Kaspersky offered up the source code for his product. If everybody has the source code there is nothing that could happen that is not already for known. If you have the source code, you know exactly what the program is supposed to do. That’s the reason Micro-slop and others guard their source code so diligently. Now there seems to be a lot that I don’t know about the issue, but it it’s about source code exposing the US security, I’m at a loss. That’s not to say that I might be out in left field. Just scrap windows, go with Linux and save all the hassle and a huge sum of money.

    • michaelparsons

      15 years Linux user. Never had any problems with it. Linux Mint runs circles around Windows, Mac, Apple too.

  • Al Lejdly

    The President let the Obumbler DHS pull the wool over his eyes on this lynching. Kaspersky in no way had anything to do with helping to spy on our government. If there was a breach then it was because of our governments own stupidity. I hope Eugene cleans their clock.

  • AtomicFury

    I’m not taking any chances even though I’m small potato’s compared to a government. I dropped Kaspersky.

    • Al Lejdly

      You’ll regret it some day. I’ve been using it since 06 and have never been attacked or got a virus. Never had to reformat and that’s through two CPU’s. I had my XP machine for 10 years and this 8 machine since then. Last I checked effectiveness for Security software, Kaspersky came in at a 96% efectiveness rating compared to low 80’s for Norton and McAfee. My conspiracy theory is those two bought some politicians because Kaspersky was killing them.

      • AtomicFury

        I did it reluctantly. I hope this business all proves to be much ado about nothing. I wish you continued satisfaction with the Kaspersky software.

        • Al Lejdly

          Thank you and I’m sure Kaspersky’s good name will be cleared. I smelled politics in this when it first hit the news but then I guess I’m die hard biased for Kaspersky.

  • GyreandgymbleWabe

    Can’t imagine Russian government networks using anything made in the USA either…

    • Al Lejdly

      Now there’s a country not to be trusted!

  • GyreandgymbleWabe

    I thought all the US government networks were already controlled by Russia. What else could explain the 2016 presidential election results?

    • Al Lejdly

      Ask Seth Rich.

  • the deplorable john doe

    Why was the russians allowed to put software into govt computers?? Is this another obozo move?????? Will that POS ever go away???

  • TwoInchPattern

    I don’t blame President Trump. He has good instincts. American software could get infected too but why take the risk.

  • IceColdLogic

    Government comes in with a gag order and instructs you to comply with an order to put a backdoor in your product. In the US maybe…. just maybe, you risk leaking the documents. In Russia?!?! No way. I wouldn’t allow any non-US product on a secure network.

    Also, trying to get the judicial branch to overturn a national security matter decided by the executive branch is ridiculous.

    • TwoInchPattern

      The Dems already did exactly that, twice, with the alien travel ban injunctions. Despite the SCOTUS eventually overruling the injunction, it worked to put our country at risk for many months.

  • John MacDonald

    Kaspersky Endpoint is an excellent product and their support is the best in the industry. I’m a Trump supporter all the way, but Kaspersky is getting the shaft here.

    • NJLamer

      We reserve the RIGHT to use or NOT use any software on Secure systems. You are screwed.

      • John MacDonald

        Not questioning your rights. You can do whatever you think is right. But if you are not a high level programmer and have not carefully examined their code for like you know evidence maybe getting an expert would help expose the truth. I know… it’s a novel concept.

    • Sagev Sal

      Have you gone their code line by line to check for probable backdoors?

      • John MacDonald

        Back doors are very common and probably exist in most .products. I believe this all started with the NSA hacking software residing on a home computer illegally and that computer used Kaspersky antivirus.The classified software was imbedded in a 7-zip file and forwarded to Kaspersky for examination. It was returned unviewed as it contained word classified. If a hacker wants to access classified data it does not need help from Kaspersky. Most antivirus programs would have responded similarly. If you want to protect data, the best offense is defense and vetting of employees and serious consequences for removing classified data to home computers.

        • Sagev Sal

          The best defense against getting hacked and getting a virus is to have a network with ZERO links to the outside world. That is the way it used be with highly classified data back in the day. No outside access, no hack. Don’t let people enter or leave secure areas with anything that can be used to collect data. Texas Instruments protected their company data better than the feds.

  • willnkc

    Companies from foreign countries have no right to due process in our country or our court systems.

  • SlowpokeSA

    We can revoke any contract w/any suppler anytime we want.

  • Tiger184

    Stopped using Kaspersky years ago when their software shut down our entire office with – what they called – false flags.

  • AshJonson

    I never used or trusted “Kaspersky” for the exact same reasons. besides, their product sucks!