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Federal agencies are so far unable to comply with a law banning Kaspersky Lab software from U.S. government networks by October, The Daily Beast has learned. Multiple divisions of the U.S. government are confronting the reality that code written by the Moscow-based security company is embedded deep within American infrastructure, in routers, firewalls, and other hardware—and nobody is certain how to get rid of it.
“It’s messy, and it’s going to take way longer than a year,” said one U.S. official. “Congress didn’t give anyone money to replace these devices, and the budget had no wiggle-room to begin with.”
At issue is a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) enacted last December that requires the government to fully purge itself of “any hardware, software, or services developed or provided, in whole or in part,” by Kaspersky Lab. The law was a dramatic expansion of an earlier DHS directive that only outlawed “Kaspersky-branded” products. Both measures came after months of saber rattling by the U.S., which has grown increasingly anxious about Kaspersky’s presence in federal networks in the wake of Russia’s 2016 election interference campaign.
The article goes on to state the following:
Even less hawkish U.S. officials worry that the company could be compelled under Russian law to weaponize their code to spy on U.S. government networks. The company works so closely with Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, that agents are sometimes embedded in the firm’s Moscow headquarters. And like virtually all anti-virus products, Kaspersky’s has complete access to any computer on which it’s running, including the ability to riffle through files and, depending on the configuration, upload them to Kaspersky’s servers in Russia. It can also execute arbitrary instructions transmitted from the company’s headquarters.
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