Bloombergpolitics

Russia Threatens Retaliation If Pentagon Bans Kaspersky Software

  • U.S. share of Russian state software is ‘huge,’ minister says
  • Foreign programs not always about data risk, Nikiforov says

Pentagon building

Source: AFP via Getty Images

Russia may retaliate if the U.S. Congress bans the Department of Defense from using Kaspersky Lab’s cybersecurity software, Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov said.

Any “unilateral political sanctions” by the U.S. may prompt a response from Russia, whose government systems use “a huge proportion of American software and hardware solutions in the IT sphere, even in very sensitive areas,” Nikiforov said in an interview on Friday. He declined to identify U.S. software products that may be affected by any reciprocal sanctions.

A country’s use of “foreign software isn’t necessarily about information risks as it undergoes screening and certification procedures” against possible hidden code that may threaten the security of computer networks, he said.

Amid political controversy in the U.S. over computer hacking and alleged Kremlin meddling in the 2016 presidential elections, the Senate Armed Services Committee has proposed banning the Pentagon “from using software platforms developed by Kaspersky Lab due to reports that the Moscow-based company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence.” Kaspersky Lab said it doesn’t cooperate with any government in cyber-espionage, the Interfax news service reported Thursday.

FBI agents interviewed at least a dozen employees of Kaspersky Lab in the U.S. this week as part of a counterintelligence probe, according to NBC News, which reported that the company has “long been of interest” to the authorities. There’s no indication the interviews were linked to a U.S. investigation into alleged Russian interference in the elections, the broadcaster reported.

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