LIFE MOVES PRETTY FAST if you're Kaspersky Labs, particularly when UK cyber security buffs warn government departments and their lucrative supplier contracts away from risky Russian anti-virus software.
Ciaran Martin, director of the UK National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), wrote a letter to government departments warning them to be aware that Russian government meddling could mean cybersecurity products exported by the nation may pose a threat.
"The NCSC advises that Russia is a highly capable cyber threat actor which uses cyber as a tool of statecraft. This includes espionage, disruption and influence operations. Russia has the intent to target UK central government and the UK's critical national infrastructure," warned Martin, after explaining how cloud-connected anti-virus tools actually work to government.
"To that end, we advise that where it is assessed that access to the information by the Russian state would be a risk to national security, a Russia-based AV company should not be chosen," he noted.
"In practical terms, this means that for systems processing information classified SECRET and above, a Russia-based provider should never be used."
So that's bad news if you happen to be a large cybersecurity firm with a global reach that happens to be headquartered in Moscow…...like Kaspersky Labs.
But CEO Eugene Kaspersky was quick to highlight that Kaspersky Labs products haven't been banned in the UK and said the cybersecurity firm is willing to be transparent with UK spooks and cyber boffins, which he declared via the holy social media medium of Twitter.
Let me stress: there is *no* ban for KL products in the UK. We are in touch with @NCSC regarding our Transparency Initiative and I am sure we will find the way to work together— Eugene Kaspersky (@e_kaspersky) December 2, 2017
And Martin did point out that the NCSC is in discussions with Kaspersky Labs to see whether it can "develop a framework that we and others can independently verify".
This means Kaspersky isn't being slapped with the label of being 'Putin puppets' by the NCSC quite yet, unlike in the US where Kaspersky software has been banned from governmental organisations.
However, it would seem the NCSC's warning has been taken to heart, as the BBC reports that Barclays bank has axed Kaspersky software from its systems as a precaution. They do say fear is a powerful tool.
To be honest, we feel a little sorry for Kaspersky Lab and Kaspersky himself.
Time after time Kaspersky has not only championed global cybersecurity but also offered to open up his company source code and products for inspection. He even went so far to declare the company would quit Moscow if the Russian government demanded Kaspersky uses its software to spy.
Even when it was revealed that Kaspersky software had hoovered up parts of an NSA hacking tool from a contractor's computer, it was noted that the anti-virus was just doing its job by detecting then uploading source code - via an opt-in scheme - to Kaspersky's research centre.
In effect the anti-virus detected NSA-made malware and simply saw it as a new threat, not a classified US hacking tool, meaning it was simply doing what it was made to do, not spying on America's seemingly clumsy security service.
But in a time when neo-Nazis are cropping up and Presidential pillock Trump it tweeting toss, it's easy for people to see Russia with its election meddling government and ex-KGB president as an exporter of clandestine kit, despite the Cold War ending more than 25 years ago. µ
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