Germany Warns About Russian Anti-Virus Software

Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) cyber security authority has warned against using anti-virus software from Russian headquartered company Kaspersky. 

The BSI issued the statement concerning the conflict in Ukraine and said that the Russian information-technology businesses could be spied on, or forced to launch cyber attacks. 

The BSI has made no allegation of current problems with Kaspersky's products, but said the conflict in Ukraine and Russian threats against the European Union, NATO and Germany brought with them the risk of cyber attacks.

Kaspersky told BBC News that this notification had been "made on political grounds" and that it had no ties to the Russian government. "A Russian IT manufacturer can carry out offensive operations itself, be forced against its will to attack target systems, or be spied on as a victim of a cyber operation without its knowledge or as a tool for attacks against its own customers," the warning said.

The BSI advises that Kaspersky anti-virus products should be replaced with alternatives, but carefully, to avoid weakening defences.

Previously in 2017, US President Trump signed legislation banning Kaspersky software's use within the American Government Also in 2017, UK's National Cyber Security Centre said it would contact all government departments with concerns over the use of Kaspersky systems products relating the issues to national security.

Following the BSI warning, Eintracht Frankfurt football club spokesman Axel Hellmann told Bloomberg: "We have notified Kaspersky management that we are terminating our sponsorship agreement effective immediately... We very much regret the development." The high profile brand sponsorship deal that Kaspersky has with the Ferrari F1 motor racing team has not been affected, to date.

Kaspersky said it would seek clarification from the BSI on its decision, which was "not based on a technical assessment of Kaspersky products" and how to address its concerns.

As a private global cyber security Kaspersky said it does not have any ties to the Russian or any other governments and that its data-processing infrastructure has been moved to Switzerland in 2018. "The security and integrity of our data services and engineering practices have been confirmed by independent third-party assessments.. We believe that peaceful dialogue is the only possible instrument for resolving conflicts," it said.

Similar remarks on Twitter by founder Eugene Kaspersky two weeks ago attracted strong criticism from various other senior industry figures. 

Background Published By BSI

“For over a decade now, information technology has been changing our lives at a rapid rate: the Internet and mobile telecommunication have become the foundation for new forms of communication, commerce, and entertainment.

“Not only private industry has successfully made use of the new technical capabilities: public administrations now use modern IT to optimise their processes and to be able to offer citizens improved services. The term “e-Government” covers numerous online activities and may make many trips to public offices unnecessary in the future.”

“However, one basic human need must not be ignored: the need for security. It takes the knowledge and action of every person involved to maintain security in society. This applies especially to IT security since the threats to security often go unnoticed at first glance and are often underestimated.

“As a national cyber security authority, the goal of the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) is to promote IT security in Germany. The BSI is first and foremost the central IT security service provider for the federal government in Germany."

“However, we also offer our services to IT manufacturers as well as private and commercial users and providers of information technology because effective security is only possible when everyone involved contributes. “For this reason, we want to work in even closer co-operation with all those working in the IT and Internet industry in the field of IT security.”

BSI:      Twitter / Eugene Kaspersky:     Bloomberg:     BBC

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