"The risk that the Russian government, whether acting on its own or in collaboration with Kaspersky, could capitalize on access provided by Kaspersky products to compromise federal information and information systems directly implicates USA national security".
In July, the chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, told The Associated Press at his Moscow headquarters that US government officials can examine his company's source code to dispel suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin.
Agencies in the executive branch are expected to begin the process of discontinuing Kaspersky products within 90 days.
"The department is concerned about the ties between certain Kaspersky officials and Russian intelligence and other government agencies", she said in a statement.
Rob Joyce, the White House cyber security coordinator, said Wednesday at the Billington CyberSecurity Summit that the Trump administration made a "risk-based decision" to order Kaspersky Lab's products removed from federal agencies.
The DHS is giving Kaspersky the opportunity to submit a written response addressing the concerns raised or to mitigate concerns spelled out in the directive. But the Defense Department, which includes the National Security Agency, does not generally use Kaspersky software, officials said.
In a statement, DHS echoed this sentiment Wednesday.
David Kennedy, founder of Cleveland-based TrustedSec, told BuzzFeed News, that there has "never" been any evidence presented publicly that Kaspersky has direct ties to the Russian government, though he said some evidence might have been presented in private.
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Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said that since the election, questions have intensified about federal information networks use of the Russian company's software. It has tried largely in vain to become a vendor to the US government, one of the world's biggest buyers of cyber tools.
The directive issued by acting Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke comes as various USA law enforcement and intelligence agencies and several congressional committees are investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. "Many of those companies will now feel compelled to go through their systems and remove this antivirus program, as well as conduct a risk assessment".
A Kaspersky Lab spokesperson said in a statement that the company is disappointed in the DHS decision and will provide additional information "to confirm that these allegations are completely unfounded".
Earlier this week, retailer Best Buy said it would stop selling Kaspersky software for the time being.
Questions over Kaspersky's motives have even led the US electronics chain Best Buy to stop stocking Kaspersky antivirus software.
"Given that our intelligence officials would not use Kaspersky Lab software, it is alarming that essential USA government agencies do".
Vendors have survived this sort of thing before: Huawei remains forbidden from selling to the United States and Australian governments, but its consumer handset business is doing very well in both markets and its enterprise business is a contender in many industries.