Partners: U.S. Government Ban Will Deliver Huge Blow To Kaspersky Lab

Partners said that President Trump's signing of legislation that bans the use of Kaspersky Lab within the U.S. government would further harm their ties with the vendor.

"It's probably going to have a big impact on our Kaspersky business. I'm kind of surprised it went this far," said a Kaspersky partner that didn't wish to be identified. "I don't know what Kaspersky is going to do."

The ban reinforces a directive issued by the Trump administration in September stipulating that civilian agencies remove Kaspersky's software within 90 days.

[Related: CRN Once Got A Video Tour Of Kaspersky Lab's Moscow Headquarters]

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Nearly all government agencies have entirely removed Kaspersky products from their network in compliance with the September order, Christopher Krebs, a senior cybersecurity official at the Department of Homeland Security, said Tuesday, according to Reuters.

The proclamation signed by Trump on Tuesday applies to both civilian and military networks and was part of a broader defense policy spending bill. Kaspersky Lab said it has serious concerns about the act and accused Congress of failing to take a comprehensive look at how existing statues could be improved to better protect government networks.

"Congress singled out Kaspersky Lab based solely on the location of its headquarters, resulting in substantial and irreparable harm to the company, its U.S.-based employees, and its U.S.-based business partners," Kaspersky said in a statement. "Kaspersky Lab is assessing whether any further action is appropriate to protect its interests."

The legislation came after months of pushback against the Moscow-based company over alleged ties to the Russian government, which Kaspersky Lab has vehemently denied. Kaspersky's ability to sell to the federal government had already been stripped in July when the security vendor was removed from the GSA schedule or approved list of technology vendors for government departments.

The Kaspersky partner said they were being asked almost every day about the allegations against the company. They expect that the U.S. government ban and subsequently press coverage will only intensify the questioning, resulting in a fair amount of damage to Kaspersky's business.

As a result of the allegations, the partner gradually began shifting customers away from Kaspersky and toward ESET for endpoint security. The solution provider said they no longer go out of their way to recommend or push Kaspersky, and typically only provide the product upon request.

"For the longest time, I stood by Kaspersky and supported them. To this date, I think it is a good product," the partner said. "But I don't know what more they can do."

The partner said Kaspersky erred earlier in the year by not investing more in advertising and marketing to reassure customers of their credibility. Kaspersky has been in communication with its channel partners about the allegations, the solution provider said, but the partner hasn't seen any signs that Kaspersky made an effort to speak with its end users.

"I'm ultimately not the one that needs convincing that Kaspersky is a good product and a reputable company," the partner said. "They should have done a better job of communicating that message to the customer directly."

Kaspersky said in November that an internal investigation found its servers received confidential National Security Agency files from an employee's computer but said that had happened as part of an investigation into malicious code on the machine and wasn't a result of cooperation with Russia. CEO Eugene Kaspersky ordered that the classified data be deleted from the computer, the company said.

Two months earlier, electronics retail giant Best Buy announced that it would no longer sell Kaspersky's consumer security software in its retail stores.