- The Washington Times - Friday, October 13, 2017

Staples Inc. has followed fellow retailers Best Buy and Office Depot in cutting ties with Kaspersky Lab, the Moscow-based antivirus software vendor accused of being a conduit for the Russian government’s espionage efforts.

Kaspersky’s antivirus software was taken off the Staples website and pulled from the shelves of all of its over 1,200 retail stores Thursday, a Staples spokesman confirmed to Bloomberg.

The Massachusetts-headquartered office supply chain is the latest major American retailer to part ways with the privately-owned Russian company as allegations swell concerning its ties to foreign intelligence.

Competing retailers Best Buy and Office Depot both stopped selling Kaspersky products early last month, and the Department of Homeland Security issued a directive on Sept. 13 ordering federal agencies across the board to identify the presence of any Kaspersky products and remove them from their systems within 90 days.

Staples declined to provide a reasoning for removing Kaspersky products from its website and stores, Bloomberg reported.

Kaspersky Lab will continue offering its cybersecurity solutions to U.S. customers through its website and other trade networks,” a Kaspersky spokesperson told Russian state-owned media Friday.

Rumors of the Russian government’s alleged connections to Kaspersky have existed for years, but a Wall Street Journal report published last week offered the strongest case yet in support of those suspicions. Russian state-sponsored hackers infiltrated Kaspersky and then used its popular antivirus software to spy on its customers and copy data from their computers, including classified U.S. documents stolen from a National Security Agency employee’s home computer, the report said.

The New York Times and Washington Post independently corroborated aspects of the initial report and have published subsequent articles alleging Russian spies exploited Kaspersky products to conduct espionage.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, refuted the findings of those reports to reporters Thursday.

“This information is absurd,” Mr. Peskov said. “The state neither had nor has any relation to this activity. All such allegations are baseless and unproved.”

Kaspersky has adamantly denied conspiring with intelligence agencies in Russia or abroad.

Kaspersky Lab has nothing to do with the situation described in The New York Times or other media outlets and has no information about it,” a spokesperson for the company said this week. “We reconfirm our readiness to work together with the U.S. authorities to answer any questions about the company’s products, as well as internal procedures.”

Staples operated 1,255 U.S. stores at the start of the current fiscal year.


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