- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab is reportedly considering closing its D.C. office as it prepares for the possibility of losing its contracts with the U.S. government as questions persist about its alleged ties to Russian intelligence.

Kaspersky Government Security Solutions Inc. (KGSS), the subsidiary that acts as a conduit between the company and government clients, may soon be shuttering its D.C. office, Russian news portal The Bell reported Tuesday, citing two sources close to the company.

Anton Shingarev, Kaspersky’s vice president for public affairs, acknowledged that an “reorganization” effort is being planned for the D.C. office, but was noncommittal on whether it would be closed outright, The Bell reported.

Kaspersky Lab is studying options to optimize the company’s unit in Washington,” a company spokesman said in a statement.

Kaspersky has denied being cozy with the Russian government, but U.S. officials have made multiple statements in recent months suggesting otherwise. The directors of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency testified in May that they’d be uncomfortable installing Kaspersky software on government computers, and in July the General Services Administration banned government agencies from using certain Kaspersky products.

Congress is currently considering legislation that would ban the Department of Defense from doing business with Kaspersky, and the proposal’s author, Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, said she plans to offer a separate bill barring the entire federal government from using Kaspersky products.

“The Kremlin hacked our presidential election, is waging a cyberwar against our NATO allies and is probing opportunities to use similar tactics against democracies worldwide. Why then are federal agencies, local and state governments and millions of Americans unwittingly inviting this threat into their cyber networks and secure spaces?” Ms. Shaheen said last week.

Even without being formally banned, however, The Bell reported that Kaspersky has already been effectively blacklisted from doing business with Washington, according to one of its sources.

The KGSS office was opened in 2014 and employs about 10 people, all U.S. citizens, The Bell reported. Kaspersky has two other U.S. offices in Massachusetts and Washington state and plans to open new facilities next year in Chicago, Los Angeles and Toronto, Russian media reported Tuesday.

Customers in the U.S. and Canada accounted for about a quarter of Kaspersky’s revenue in 2016, or about $600 million, The Bell reported. Last week, meanwhile, Best Buy — the largest electronics retailer in the U.S. — announced it would stop selling Kaspersky’s commercial antivirus software at its 1,000-plus American stores.

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