LATEST UPDATE: Even with Kaspersky now removed from federal networks, this topic is still making an impact on federal IT acquisition. Click here to read more.
UPDATE 2/15/2018: After our earlier question on whether Kaspersky would tackle the governmentwide software ban in the FY18 NDAA, it appears we now have the answer. Kaspersky filed a second lawsuit this week seeking to overturn the NDAA ban of its software.
UPDATE: On January 18, 2018, Kaspersky Lab reportedly filed a lawsuit against DHS seeking an injunction against the roll-out of the BOD. It is unclear how this would impact the larger Federal ban enacted in the FY18 NDAA.
UPDATE: The NDAA for FY18, signed by President Trump on December 12, 2017, effectively banned all future Federal use of Kaspersky products. This came after the Department of Homeland Security issued what is known as a Binding Operational Directive (BOD) in September 2017, which required Federal agencies to produce audits of their use of Kaspersky products, and enact plans to remove all software and products from their respective networks.
NASA SEWP, a GWAC that we’ve covered before, and GSA’s IT Schedule 70 made headlines on July 11, 2017 when they removed Kaspersky Lab from the approved vendor lists of the respective purchasing tools. This was seen by some as the first open and official step in removing Kaspersky anti-virus software and products from Federal systems, after years of suspicion surrounding a rumored relationship between the Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab and the Russian government. While some reports have called this a “de facto debarment” of Kaspersky products, Federal, state, and local agencies are still able to purchase the software outside of the GSA Schedules and SEWP. This may change soon, however, as further Federal legislation is passed on the issue and more information is made public by Federal agencies.
Kaspersky was originally approved for NASA SEWP V, GSA’s IT Schedule 70, and and GSA’s Schedule 67: Photographic Equipment & Related Supplies & Services. After years of speculation regarding the company’s operations in Russia, and the activities of the KGB-trained founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky, this new Federal interest seems to have started in May 2017 with public testimony from intelligence officials in which Federal agency heads stated that they would refrain using Kaspersky software on their systems. By June, the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) moved to draft a ban on using Kaspersky products on any Department of Defense networks, and the FBI began investigating the US-based arm of the company. The CEO then even offered to release the source-code of their software in an attempt to assuage the fears of Federal officials.
Finally, on the same day that Bloomberg released a report on the company’s purported links to Russian intelligence, GSA completed the removal of the company from the Schedules Program. While this limits access for Kaspersky through the Schedules Program and the ever-growing SEWP GWAC, Kaspersky still does not face a full debarment and the software is still accessible to Federal and state agencies seeking to use it, with some state governments stating they have no plans to remove the software. However, the SASC ban on DOD-usage was placed in the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 18, a powerful bill for procurement regulations as we’ve covered before. While the NDAA for FY18 has yet to be passed, an official ban for DOD use of Kaspersky software could place a further dent in any government procurement activity, and even affect commercial sales of the software.
Parallel investigations of the issue are ongoing in Federal circles, but procurement experts believe that without a more public and concrete explanation, the Federal government may have a tough time instituting a complete ban on the use of Kaspersky’s products.
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