The National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) of United Kingdom has issued fresh warnings to all its government departments to stop using Russian-based anti-virus named ‘Kaspersky’, as fears mount that that could pose a high risk to the national security. Cyber security agency warns government departments against using Kaspersky, a Russian anti-virus software. The official advise NCSC advice updated over the weekend which claims that the tool could be exploited by the Russian government, at a time when the agency is being investigated in the United States. Although, the company behind Kaspersky anti-virus denies from any wrongdoing or any kind of ties with Russian government.
Besides, the company planned to open up source code just for an independent review, the United States has since moved to ban the anti-virus program from all their government departments. The source code review of Kaspersky anti-virus tool is currently ongoing, and the company has stated that it would update the ‘IT pro’ with the findings whenever they are available. Until now, the government of United Kingdom has been quite about its use of Kaspersky Russian-based anti-virus. However, in a letter addressed to the department secretaries last Friday, the CEO of NCSC Ciaran Martin said that Kaspersky should not be chosen by any security agencies.
According to the NCSC, Russia is a highly capable for cyber threat actor which uses the cyber as a tool of statecraft which includes disruption, espionage and influence operations. Russia intentionally targets UK central government and its critical national infrastructure as well. The advice of NCSC also includes the guidance for the best security practices with cloud services. The security agency suggests that the UK government is willing to work alongside the likes Russian-based anti-virus rather than seek an outright ban. However, the initial guidance was only aimed at the central government bodies, and it does not recommend any kind of action in by public outside of Westminister, nor does it recommend companies or public to stop using Kaspersky anti-virus software.
As a result of the updated guidelines of NCSC, Barclays has stopped offering the free version of Kaspersky tool to new customers and has advised those who tried to install the program for an alternative provider. As Barclays spokesperson told to BBC, even though the new guidance is not directed at the members of public, they have taken the decision to withdraw offer. According to the spokesperson of Kaspersky, the company was disappointed by the decision taken by Barclays in order to discontinue providing free versions of its program to any new customers. Although, the company was keen to reiterate that NCSC is not discouraging people of United Kingdom from using its product.