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The US government on Wednesday banned the use of a Russian brand of security software by federal agencies amid concerns the company has ties to state-sponsored cyberespionage activities, according to US officials. Acting Homeland Security secretary Elaine Duke ordered that Kaspersky Lab software be barred from federal government networks, giving agencies a timeline to get rid of it, according to several officials familiar with the plan who were not authorised to speak publicly about it.

Duke ordered the scrub on the grounds that the company has connections to the Russian government and its software poses a security risk.

“The Department is concerned about 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,” the department said in a statement.

“The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalise on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates US national security.”

The directive comes months after the federal General Services Administration, the agency in charge of government purchasing, removed Kaspersky from its list of approved vendors. In doing so, the GSA suggested a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Kremlin back door access to the systems the company protects.

In a statement to The Washington Post on Wednesday, the company said: “Kaspersky Lab doesn’t have inappropriate ties with any government, which is why no credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation to back up the false allegations made against the company. 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 cyberespionage or offensive cyber efforts.”

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