On Friday, the UK’s primary cyber security office cautioned British government agencies to abstain from using anti-virus from Russian organizations, the most recent in a progression of moves focusing on Moscow-based security programming creator Kaspersky Lab.
In a letter to departmental permanent secretaries, the director of the U.K. National Cyber Security Center, Ciaran Martin, said Russian-made anti-virus ought not be used as part of frameworks containing data that would compromise national security. He said his agency will talk with Kaspersky Lab to build a framework for investigating its services for use in Britain.
Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said “Russia is acting against the U.K.’s national interest in cyberspace.” In a letter to civil service chiefs on Friday, he said, “Russia seeks to target U.K. central government and the U.K.’s critical national infrastructure. A Russia-based provider should never be used for systems that deal with issues related to national security.”
Kaspersky Lab said it anticipated working with the NCSC on the issue. Kaspersky has emphatically denied claims that its products go to the Russian government, saying it has turned into a scapegoat with rising pressures in Washington and Moscow. Kaspersky’s anti-virus was prohibited from U.S. government networks earlier this year on concerns the organization has close connections to intelligence offices in Moscow and that its product could be utilized to empower Russian spying.
“We are in discussions with Kaspersky Lab about whether we can develop a framework that we and others can independently verify,” Martin said in a public letter.
The U.S. government is examining alleged Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election, and some British lawmakers have required a similar test into the UK’s European Union membership referendum. Prime Minister Theresa May said a month ago that Russia was “weaponizing information” and interfering in decisions to undermine the universal order. British bank Barclays said on Saturday it had quit offering Kaspersky anti-virus products to its clients.
“Even though this new guidance isn’t directed at members of the public, we have taken the decision to withdraw the offer of Kaspersky software from our customer website,” said Barclays.