Obviously, it’s best practice to use antivirus and malware protection on anything you have that can connect to a network — and that goes double for businesses. But a new report says that the FBI is now asking several companies in the private sector to phase out use of products from Kaspersky Labs over concerns about the founder’s Russian background and ties.
The Feds already stopped
The company, as we explained in July, has been offering its generally well-regarded antivirus and security products in the U.S. for nearly 20 years. But “Russian interference” is one of the big buzzwords of 2017, and the company’s founder and products have recently come under scrutiny as a result.
Since 2015, several reports have surfaced that founder Eugene Kaspersky has ties to Russian military intelligence. Any potential vulnerabilities stemming from those ties were by and large downplayed or ignored… until this year.
The Trump administration removed Kaspersky Lab from the list of approved vendors for government contracts back in July. Federal agencies, as well as state and local government agencies, considered if or how to phase out their own usage.
Is the private sector next?
Those concerns are now being pushed to the private sector, it seems.
CyberScoop reports that FBI officials have been meeting with private-sector companies to brief them on the potential threat of continuing to use Kaspersky Labs software.
Officials “familiar with the matter” tell CyberScoop that the FBI’s goal is to get U.S. companies to stop using Kaspersky tools as soon as possible, or at least to stop buying or using new ones in the future.
The FBI started with companies in the energy sector earlier this year, sources tell CyberScoop, and have moved on to “large U.S. tech companies” that have existing partnerships or business arrangements with Kaspersky.
Results have reportedly been mixed, with companies in the energy sector seeming more willing to act on the push than the “traditional tech giants.”
“If these briefings are actually occurring, it’s extremely disappointing that a government agency would take such actions against a law-abiding and ethical company like Kaspersky Lab,” a spokesperson for the company told CyberScoop. “The only conclusion seems to be that Kaspersky Lab, a private company, is caught in the middle of a geopolitical fight, and it’s being treated unfairly, even though the company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyber-espionage or offensive cyber efforts.”
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Consumerist.