Communications Minister Nikolay Nikiforov served notice on Friday that the Russian government would retaliate against U.S. companies if Congress bans the Pentagon from using controversial cyber-security software from Kaspersky Lab.
In an interview with Bloomberg, Nikiforov said that any “unilateral political sanctions” put in place by the U.S. government would impact American companies that provide “a huge proportion of American software and hardware solutions in the IT sphere, even in very sensitive areas,” to Russia.
The Russian official dismissed concerns about hidden code in the software that could impact computer network security, saying, "Foreign software isn’t necessarily about information risks as it undergoes screening and certification procedures."
The FBI is currently scrutinizing Kaspersky Lab's anti-virus software based upon fears that the Moscow-based company is run by executives with extensive ties to Russian intelligence and military agencies.
The Senate Armed Services Committee has asked that the Pentagon be banned “from using software platforms developed by Kaspersky Lab due to reports that the Moscow-based company might be vulnerable to Russian government influence.”
“We are very much concerned about this, very much concerned about the security of our country," Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) said specifically about Kaspersky Lab.
Despite denials from Kaspersky executives that they had any involvement in the alleged hacking of the 2016 presidential election, FBI agents interviewed over a dozen employees of the Russian company in the past week as part of a counterintelligence probe.