(Reuters) – Britain’s main cyber security agency on Friday warned British government agencies to avoid using anti-virus software from Russian companies, the latest in a series of moves targeting Moscow-based security software maker Kaspersky Lab.
In a letter to departmental permanent secretaries, the director of the UK National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, said Russian-made anti-virus software should not be used in systems containing information that would harm national security if it was accessed by the Russian government.
He said his agency is in talks with Kaspersky Lab to develop a system for reviewing its products for use in Britain.
Kaspersky’s anti-virus software was banned from U.S. government networks earlier this year on concerns the company has close ties to intelligence agencies in Moscow and that its software could be used to enable Russian spying.
“We are in discussions with Kaspersky Lab … about whether we can develop a framework that we and others can independently verify,” Martin said in the letter, which was publicly released.
Kaspersky Lab said in a statement that it looked forward to working with the NCSC on the issue.
Kaspersky has strongly denied allegations about the safety of its products or ties to the Russian government, saying it has become a scapegoat in the midst of rising tensions between Washington and Moscow.
British bank Barclays [BARCR.UL] said on Saturday it had stopped offering Kaspersky anti-virus products to customers.
“Even though this new guidance isn’t directed at members of the public, we have taken the decision to withdraw the offer of Kaspersky software from our customer website,” it said in a statement.
(Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Costas Pitas in London; Editing by Jim Finkle and Leslie Adler)