- The Washington Times - Friday, December 22, 2017

Lithuania has joined the U.S. and U.K. on the list of NATO members taking action against Moscow-based antivirus vendor Kaspersky Lab amid concerns surrounding its alleged ties to Russia’s government.

“Kaspersky Lab software is a potential national security threat,” the Baltic state’s defense ministry said in a statement Thursday, making it at least the third NATO member in three months to publicly condemn using Kaspersky software.

Lithuania isn’t banning Kaspersky products across the board, but instead prohibiting its software on computers that control critical infrastructure and systems not specifically deemed sensitive by its cybersecurity agency, Reuters reported.

“Information from computers using the software can leak into countries where we don’t want it to end up,” said Rytis Rainys, deputy director of Lithuania’s federal cybersecurity agency.

Lithuania’s action targeting Kaspersky comes on the heels of both the U.S. and U.K. raising concerns in recent month over the company’s alleged ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a directive in September ordering federal agencies to purge its systems of Kaspersky products within 90 days, and the director of the U.K. National Cyber Security Centre warned earlier this month against using the company’s software.

“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 U.S. national security,” the DHS said in a Sept. 16 directive banning the company’s products.

Kaspersky sued DHS over the ban in D.C. federal court Monday, alleging the directive violated its right to due process.

“Kaspersky Lab does not have inappropriate ties with any government,” Kaspersky said in a statement, Reuters reported. “Unfortunately, the company appears to be caught up in a geopolitical fight and this has resulted in allegations for which no credible evidence has been publicly presented.”

Darius Jauniskis, Lithuania’s intelligence chief, previously said otherwise. Mr. Jauniskis recently said Kaspersky “was sometimes acting as a toy in the hands of Putin’s administration,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Russian state-sponsored hackers have exploited Kaspersky software in order to conduct international espionage, including operations targeting victims in the U.S., according to recent news reports. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously called those reports “absurd” and “ungrounded and unproven.”

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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