May 14, 2018 / 6:58 PM / 6 months ago

Dutch government to phase out use of Kaspersky anti-virus software

The logo of Russia's Kaspersky Lab is on displayat the company's office in Moscow, Russia October 27, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - The Dutch government said on Monday it had decided to phase out the use of anti-virus software made by Kaspersky Labs “as a precautionary measure” and was advising companies involved in safeguarding vital services to do the same.

In a letter to parliament, Justice Minister Ferdinand Grapperhaus said the decision was made because the Russian government had an “offensive cyber programme that targets among others the Netherlands and Dutch interests”.

He also said Moscow-based Kaspersky was subject to Russian laws that could oblige it to comply with Russian state interests.

The decision is the latest blow to Kaspersky, whose founder Eugene Kaspersky, firmly denies any cooperation with Russian intelligence. Kaspersky could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.

The Dutch decision follows a U.S. Department of Homeland Security ban on the use of Kaspersky software by the U.S. Federal government in 2017

It also follows a warning by Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre for agencies and organizations not to use Russian anti-virus software if they were guarding classified information that the Kremlin could target.

In April, Twitter banned Kaspersky from advertising on its platform, citing U.S. allegations of ties between the company and Russian intelligence.

“The (Dutch) cabinet has carried out an independent review and analysis and made a careful decision on that basis,” Grapperhaus said. “Although there are no concrete cases of misuse known in the Netherlands, it cannot be excluded.”

Grapperhaus said the government would consider revising the decision “if circumstances justify” doing so.

Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Andrew Roche and Edmund Blair

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