Kaspersky Lab: D.C. office ‘no longer viable’ and will close …

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Following months of controversy and conflicting accounts, Kaspersky is pulling back in D.C. As Bloomberg initially reported, the Russian security firm is closing its office in the U.S. capital. The D.C. office specialized in developing Kaspersky’s relationship with the U.S. government and supplying its software for federal contracts. The company intends to continue the rest of its non-governmental U.S. operations normally.

“We are closing our facility in Arlington as the opportunity for which the office was opened and staffed is no longer viable,” a Kaspersky Lab spokesperson told TechCrunch.

In September, the Department of Homeland Security issued a ban on Kaspersky products, coupled with a statement expressing its concerns regarding “the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies, and requirements under Russian law that allow Russian intelligence agencies to request or compel assistance from Kaspersky and to intercept communications transiting Russian networks.”

Plenty of drama ensued, including a revelation that the Israeli government itself had compromised Kaspersky’s antivirus software and found evidence that the software maker was spying on its U.S. clients, a claim that the company openly disputed. In the months following the initial public crackdown on its products, Kaspersky founder Eugene Kaspersky has fiercely defended his company from the allegations, dismissing them as “completely unfounded,” demanding that the U.S. government provide detailed proof of its damning claims and pledging to open its code for review.

In the beginning of December, the U.K. appeared to follow suit with the U.S. decision when GCHQ (its NSA-equivalent agency) issued a qualified warning about Kaspersky antivirus software. In a public statement, GCHQ advised national security systems to mitigate risk when using products that could be “exploited easily” by Russian authorities, but it noted that such decisions must be undertaken in an “evidence-based and transparent way” and did not broaden its warning around Kaspersky products to the public sector or to individual users beyond the central government, which has a very small existing install base.

While Kaspersky is a multinational company with contracts and sales around the globe, the decision to shutter its D.C. office shows that its stateside federal contracting business is truly drying up in the wake of warnings from the U.S. government.

Featured Image: CeBIT Australia/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

Kaspersky to Close Washington Office But Expand Non-State Sales …

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A Russian software-maker, whose products are banned for use in federal information systems by the U.S. government, is seeking to remain in the North American market and prove its products have no hidden capabilities.

Kaspersky Lab Inc. will close its Washington D.C. office that was selling to the government and will keep working with non-federal customers in the U.S. via its remaining offices in the country, vice-president Anton Shingarev said in an interview in Moscow. The company also committed in October to open its product’s source code to an independent third-party review and plans to open new offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto next year.

“This allows independent experts to verify that our software has no hidden functionality, that it doesn’t send your files to third parties, doesn’t spy on you and fully complies with the end-user agreement,” Shingarev said. 

The U.S. banned government use of Kaspersky software in September, citing founder Eugene Kaspersky’s alleged ties to Russian intelligence and the possibility its products could function as “malicious actors” to compromise federal information systems. The move caused concern about the company’s products in other markets, including the U.K.

Losing state clients may cost “single-digit” percentage decline in the company’s U.S. revenue, Shingarev said, and added that Kaspersky is receiving questions from clients about its software’s security after the government ban.

The U.K. restrictions are different from the U.S. ones, Shingarev said. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre only “advised” U.K. government bodies working with classified information against choosing Kaspersky software, according to a letter on its website.

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“We are in talks with NCSC and are trying to figure out what’s needed to deserve an opposite recommendation,” Shingarev said. “In general, they support the idea of opening the source code of our software for independent audit.”

“What I like about Europe is that their regulators are fact-driven,” he said, adding that the U.S. ban was instead based on “emotions” and “speculations.”

Kaspersky plans to create Transparency Centers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, within which its software’s code can be analyzed by independent experts. “There will be a SCIF-class facility with security cameras, no internet, and independent experts analyzing our code with Kaspersky employees answering any questions they have,” Shingarev said

Shingarev said the company doesn’t want Russia’s government to block its country’s use of American software — such as products from Symantec Corp. and Intel Corp.-backed McAfee — in retaliation to the U.S. restriction.

“I am against any bans,” he said. “Any protective measures could be very dangerous long-term. We have great expertise in protecting banks against Russian hackers and if U.S. were to ban us from their banks it would be shooting itself in a foot.” 

The same is true for Russia, Shingarev said. “Too aggressive protectionism would kill competition.”

Kaspersky to Close Washington Office But Expand Non-State Sales …

A Russian software-maker, whose products are banned for use in federal information systems by the U.S. government, is seeking to remain in the North American market and prove its products have no hidden capabilities.

Kaspersky Lab Inc. will close its Washington D.C. office that was selling to the government and will keep working with non-federal customers in the U.S. via its remaining offices in the country, vice-president Anton Shingarev said in an interview in Moscow. The company also committed in October to open its product’s source code to an independent third-party review and plans to open new offices in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto next year.

“This allows independent experts to verify that our software has no hidden functionality, that it doesn’t send your files to third parties, doesn’t spy on you and fully complies with the end-user agreement,” Shingarev said. 

The U.S. banned government use of Kaspersky software in September, citing founder Eugene Kaspersky’s alleged ties to Russian intelligence and the possibility its products could function as “malicious actors” to compromise federal information systems. The move caused concern about the company’s products in other markets, including the U.K.

Losing state clients may cost “single-digit” percentage decline in the company’s U.S. revenue, Shingarev said, and added that Kaspersky is receiving questions from clients about its software’s security after the government ban.

The U.K. restrictions are different from the U.S. ones, Shingarev said. Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre only “advised” U.K. government bodies working with classified information against choosing Kaspersky software, according to a letter on its website.

“We are in talks with NCSC and are trying to figure out what’s needed to deserve an opposite recommendation,” Shingarev said. “In general, they support the idea of opening the source code of our software for independent audit.”

“What I like about Europe is that their regulators are fact-driven,” he said, adding that the U.S. ban was instead based on “emotions” and “speculations.”

Kaspersky plans to create Transparency Centers in the U.S., Europe, and Asia, within which its software’s code can be analyzed by independent experts. “There will be a SCIF-class facility with security cameras, no internet, and independent experts analyzing our code with Kaspersky employees answering any questions they have,” Shingarev said

Shingarev said the company doesn’t want Russia’s government to block its country’s use of American software — such as products from Symantec Corp. and Intel Corp.-backed McAfee — in retaliation to the U.S. restriction.

“I am against any bans,” he said. “Any protective measures could be very dangerous long-term. We have great expertise in protecting banks against Russian hackers and if U.S. were to ban us from their banks it would be shooting itself in a foot.” 

The same is true for Russia, Shingarev said. “Too aggressive protectionism would kill competition.”