Vulnerabilities / Threats

6/29/2017
06:00 PM
Connect Directly
Twitter
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Kaspersky Lab Faces More U.S. Scrutiny Over Potential Russian Govt. Influence

Lawmaker proposes ban on DoD use of Moscow-based security vendor's products.

Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab this week found itself the subject of escalating concerns about the company's possible connections with the Russian government.

The immediate worries this time were prompted by news that FBI agents had questioned several of the security vendor's US-based employees at or near their residences Tuesday night.

The employees were apparently informed they were not the subjects of any formal criminal investigation and that they were being interviewed as part of an effort to get general information about the company's operations and communications with Moscow.

It is unclear at this time if the questioning had anything to do with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's broader investigation into potential Russian interference in the U.S. elections last year.

News of the FBI's apparent investigation of Kaspersky's activities prompted U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen [D-NH] to propose a total ban on the Pentagon's use of Kaspersky's products. In an amendment Wednesday to a Senate Armed Services Committee defense spending policy bill, Shaheen said the prohibition was required because of reports that Kaspersky Lab "might be vulnerable to Russian government interference."

A Kaspersky Lab spokeswoman said neither the company nor its founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky had any ties to any government. "The company has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with any cyber espionage efforts," the spokeswoman said in a statement to Dark Reading.

Kaspersky Lab has been an IT security vendor for 20 years and has adhered to ethical practices. "Kaspersky Lab believes it is completely unacceptable that the company is being unjustly accused without any hard evidence to back up these false allegations," the statement said.

John Pescatore, director of emerging security threats at the SANS Institute and a former NSA analyst says that so far at least there indeed doesn't appear to be any credible evidence that Kaspersky Lab's products have been compromised or contain hidden doors. "NSA and the UK GCHQ have had many years to look at Kaspersky’s products and I've seen no warnings before this," Pescatore says.

At the same time though, there's little doubt that Russian intelligence agencies are just as interested as the NSA in exploiting cyber techniques to infiltrate other countries.

"NSA knew of vulnerabilities in US security products and told no one. Russia may have known of similar vulnerabilities in Kaspersky's products and told no one," he says.

Just as the NSA might have influenced U.S. technology vendors to leave vulnerabilities in their products, the Russian government could have done the same with Kaspersky. "Russia went further, in economic espionage and trying to influence our presidential election, but there are many other similarities."

The takeaway for organizations is that all software needs to be checked for vulnerabilities and malicious capabilities, he said.

This week's developments add to the pressure that the $620 million Kaspersky Lab has been under in recent years about possible links with the Russian government and intelligence agencies. The company's products are relatively widely used in the US by consumers, commercial entities, and government organizations.

In May, U.S. intelligence officials said they were investigating the government's use of Kaspersky Lab products and whether those products could be used to attack American systems. At a U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Russian interference, the U.S. director of national intelligence and other intelligence officials unanimously expressed discomfort about US Kaspersky Lab products on their computers without explaining why. That time, as now, Kaspersky denied the company had any links with the Russian government and suggested it was being picked on for political reasons.

Black Hat USA returns to the fabulous Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Nevada, July 22-27, 2017. Click for information on the conference schedule and to register.

Related content:

 

Jai Vijayan is a seasoned technology reporter with over 20 years of experience in IT trade journalism. He was most recently a Senior Editor at Computerworld, where he covered information security and data privacy issues for the publication. Over the course of his 20-year ... View Full Bio

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Julian Assange Arrested in London
Dark Reading Staff 4/11/2019
Tips for the Aftermath of a Cyberattack
Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/17/2019
The Single Cybersecurity Question Every CISO Should Ask
Arif Kareem, CEO, ExtraHop,  4/15/2019
Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
White Papers
Video
Cartoon
Current Issue
5 Emerging Cyber Threats to Watch for in 2019
Online attackers are constantly developing new, innovative ways to break into the enterprise. This Dark Reading Tech Digest gives an in-depth look at five emerging attack trends and exploits your security team should look out for, along with helpful recommendations on how you can prevent your organization from falling victim.
Flash Poll
Twitter Feed
Dark Reading - Bug Report
Bug Report
Enterprise Vulnerabilities
From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
CVE-2019-11320
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-18
In Motorola CX2 1.01 and M2 1.01, users can access the router's /priv_mgt.html web page to launch telnetd, as demonstrated by the 192.168.51.1 address.
CVE-2019-11321
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-18
An issue was discovered in Motorola CX2 1.01 and M2 1.01. The router opens TCP port 8010. Users can send hnap requests to this port without authentication to obtain information such as the MAC addresses of connected client devices.
CVE-2019-11322
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-18
An issue was discovered in Motorola CX2 1.01 and M2 1.01. There is a command injection in the function startRmtAssist in hnap, which leads to remote code execution via shell metacharacters in a JSON value.
CVE-2019-8999
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-18
An XML External Entity vulnerability in the UEM Core of BlackBerry UEM version(s) earlier than 12.10.1a could allow an attacker to potentially gain read access to files on any system reachable by the UEM service account.
CVE-2018-17168
PUBLISHED: 2019-04-18
PrinterOn Enterprise 4.1.4 contains multiple Cross Site Request Forgery (CSRF) vulnerabilities in the Administration page. For example, an administrator, by following a link, can be tricked into making unwanted changes to a printer (Disable, Approve, etc).