The U.S Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has flagged up cybersecurity firm Kaspersky as an ‘unacceptable risk to national security’.
The company, which is well-known for its antivirus products and services, joins China Telecom and China Mobile as the latest additions to an expanding list of perceived threats compiled by the U. S. government department.
Already on the threat roster are several high-profile Chinese tech and telecoms names, including Huawei, ZTE, Hytera and lesser-known companies involved in the Chinese video surveillance sector. However, this is the first time the FCC has added a company headquartered in Russia to the list.
The move isn't directly as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine either, though Kaspersky’s response suggests it thinks otherwise. In a statement on its website, Kaspersky claims ‘This decision is not based on any technical assessment of Kaspersky products – that the company continuously advocates for – but instead is being made on political grounds.’
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Kaspersky threat to security
While the decision to add Kaspersky to the FCC’s ‘Covered List’ will seriously limit its day-to-day business, the move will also prevent the cybersecurity firm benefitting from support given out via the FCC’s Universal Service fund. The $8 billion pot is utilised for sustaining rural communications services and assisting areas with poor facilities.
Kaspersky has already been battling against a 2017 directive, which effectively barred the use of its core products on federal computer systems. In its most recent statement, Kaspersky highlighted the issue again:
Kaspersky maintains that the US Government’s 2017 prohibitions on federal entities and federal contractors from using Kaspersky products and services were unconstitutional, based on unsubstantiated allegations, and lacked any public evidence of wrongdoing by the company.
As there has been no public evidence to otherwise justify those actions since 2017, and the FCC announcement specifically refers to the Department of Homeland Security’s 2017 determination as the basis for today’s decision,
Kaspersky believes today’s expansion of such prohibition on entities that receive FCC telecommunication-related subsidies is similarly unsubstantiated and is a response to the geopolitical climate rather than a comprehensive evaluation of the integrity of Kaspersky’s products and services.
China also continues to dispute the reasoning behind its companies being added to the FCC's list, claiming it to be an abuse of power and done without providing any evidence.
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