Utilities and government agencies in the US are removing security software developed by Russian Kaspersky Lab.The latest to announce their intention to move to another supplier is the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga (EPB). According to reports, EPB will replace the Kaspersky security software provided to consumers for the past four years with McAfee Software.
Kasperky Labs have recently been in the news amidst reports that the company has connections to the Russian government and its software may pose a risk to security. Critics claim the software, which is used by 400 million people globally, was used by Russian hackers "as a search tool to find code names of American intelligence programmes running on computers around the globe."
The controversy centers around a file which it is claimed were taken off an NSA contractor's computer. Kaspersky Lab has acknowledged that the file was removed from the contractor's computer but claims the files containing the NSA hacking tools were taken because they were part of a larger file that included suspicious software.
Says J Ed Marston, VP of marketing and communications at EPB: "From our perspective, we don't think there is a high degree of risk at the consumer level and Kaspersky has been well thought of in the industry. But at the same time, our customers' peace of mind is paramount so we began to work on this just as soon as we saw this as a growing concern."
EPB provides the anti-virus software as a free option for its fibre optic customers. Such software would otherwise have both an initial purchase cost and an ongoing maintenance fee, but is offered by EPB as a value-add for their customers.
Kaspersky denies the claims that it is working with the Russian government, saying that 85% of its revenue comes from outside of Russia and it would hurt the firm to work inappropriately with any government. However, the Department of Homeland Security has ordered federal agencies to stop using Kaspersky Lab software because of concerns that the company is tied to Russian intelligence.
"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," DHS said in a statement ordering federal agencies to remove the Kaspersky software within 90 days.