With suspicions that Russia may have used cyber espionage and fake news to tamper with last fall’s presidential election at an all-time high, the U.S. government is attempting to purge its computer systems of Russian-made software.
Kaspersky Labs is a 20-year-old, Moscow-based cyber security firm that, shockingly, provides security software for a number of U.S. government agencies. On Monday, the U.S. Senate voted to ban Kaspersky products from all civilian and military government agencies.
We were using Kaspersky?!
The vote was an amendment attached to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The amendment was added by Democratic senator and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who argued that using Russian-made software poses “a real vulnerability to our national security.”
The bill follows a directive issued by the Department of Homeland Security last week banning Kaspersky software from civilian government agencies.
If passed, this law will codify the Trump administration directive, and will ensure that Kaspersky software is also banned from military agencies – although the Pentagon says that Russian-made software has not been widely used by the military.
Said Shaheen, “It’s important that this prohibition also be a part of statute and be expanded to the entire federal government, as my amendment would do.”
Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder and chief executive of the security firm, insists that his company is not working for the Kremlin, and that these suspicions are unfounded.
He agreed to testify before U.S. lawmakers later this month, but is requesting an expedited visa to be able to attend the hearing.
NDAA on the block
Next week, the House will review and vote on the NDAA, including the attached amendment banning Kaspersky. The bill seems to have strong support on all sides and is expected to pass.
Said Shaheen,” Considering the strong bipartisan, bicameral support for this proposal, I’m optimistic this will soon be signed into law.”