No Aussie ban for Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, but it does have new lobbyists

No Aussie ban for Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, but it does have new lobbyists

No Aussie ban for Russian anti-virus firm Kaspersky Lab, but it does have new lobbyists

Updated 12 October 2017, 16:30 AEDT

The US Government has purged Kaspersky software from its computers, but in Australia it's business as usual, with the Russian firm which once sponsored the Sea Eagles still providing "information security" services to several Federal Government departments.

The Federal Government has not banned beleaguered Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Lab, despite a purge of the firm's software from US Government computers.

The company is facing fresh allegations, published in the New York Times, that its software has been used by Russian government hackers to obtain classified documents from a National Security Agency employee.

Last month the US Government removed all Kaspersky software from its computer systems, but Australia is not following its ally's lead.

A spokesperson from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet confirmed that the Government has not banned Kaspersky products despite being "in constant engagement with our Five Eyes security partners on this matter".

Australia is part of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network with four of its most trusted Western allies: the US, the UK, Canada and New Zealand.

"All Australian Government departments are required to continually assess the risks to their information and networks," the spokesperson said.

"Their selection of security products and services is based on that risk assessment."

This week Liberal-aligned lobbyist firm Barton Deakin formally took Kaspersky on as a client.

Who can you trust?

Dr David Glance, Director of the UWA Centre for Software Practice, said the Government's stance was reasonable given none of the allegations against Kaspersky have been proven.

"Banning Kaspersky undermines the general digital economy," he said.

"If you can't trust the Russians, and you can't trust the Chinese, then why should we be trusting our own country's software suppliers?"

Tom Uren, Visiting Fellow in Cybersecurity at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, raised the possibility that Kaspersky could still "effectively" be banned because it may be subject to an adverse risk assessment.

He said the issue of trust was paramount for anti-virus software.

"With anti-virus you're saying to a third party, take over my computer and protect it from things I know are bad," he said.

"If you don't trust the anti-virus, then you shouldn't ever use them."

Kaspersky had promised to 'protect' PM's department

Government relations firm Barton Deakin listed the company on both the Federal and New South Wales lobbying register this week.

A spokesperson for Kaspersky Lab said Barton Deakin "will assist us with public affairs advice" and that recent news will not affect the local market.

"With 20 years' experience in the cyber security industry, our product speaks for itself to partners and our loyalty and commitment to partners continues regardless of headlines."

Barton Deakin has been contacted for comment.

In 2015, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet commissioned Kaspersky Lab as its information security provider.

Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of the company, said at the time "we'll protect your government".

Kaspersky software has been bought by several other agencies including the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The company is the former sponsor of rugby league team Manly Sea Eagles — the club supported by Tony Abbott.