Don't use antivirus firms linked to Russian Federation, cyber security chief tells Whitehall

Leslie Hanson
December 7, 2017

Britain's cybersecurity agency has told government departments not to use antivirus software from Moscow-based firm Kaspersky Lab amid concerns about Russian snooping.

A guidance note published last Friday and distributed to permanent secretaries of government departments, addressed "The issue of supply chain risk in cloud-based products, including anti-virus (AV) software" and explained "how departments should approach the issue of foreign ownership of AV suppliers".

USA authorities are investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and some British lawmakers have called for a similar probe into the U.K.'s European Union membership referendum.

He branded Russian Federation a "highly capable cyber threat actor" which uses cyberspace for "espionage, disruption and influence operations" in a letter to Whitehall chiefs signed off by MI5.

Martin says British authorities are holding talks with Kaspersky about developing checks to prevent the "transfer of United Kingdom data to the Russian state".

Theresa May used a November speech to tell Russian president Vladimir Putin that the global community was aware of his country's efforts to spread fake news in an attempt to "sow discord in the west".

Mr Martin also said Russian hackers may have targeted the United Kingdom energy network, telecoms and the media this year.

He said: "The NCSC advises that Russian Federation is a highly capable cyber threat actor which uses cyber as a tool of statecraft".

"However, the overwhelming majority of United Kingdom individuals and organisations are not being actively targeted by the Russian state, and are far more likely to be targeted by cyber criminals".

The letter added that the National Cyber Security Centre is "in discussions with Kaspersky Lab ... about whether we can develop a framework that we and others can independently verify, which would give the Government assurance about the security of their involvement in the wider United Kingdom market".

In response to the guidance, Barclays Bank said it has stopped offering Kaspersky anti-virus products to customers.

Kaspersky founder, Eugene Kaspersky, denied any wrongdoing by the company, telling the BBC earlier this week: "It's not true that the Russian state has access to the data".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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