United Kingdom government bans all Russian anti-virus software from Secret-rated systems

Image for representation only

Image for representation only

The government has set out a warning about the security risks of using anti-virus software made by Russian companies.

Ciaran Martin, head of the National Cyber Security Centre, said "Russia is acting against the U.K.'s national interest in cyberspace".

The warning comes after Russian Federation was accused of interfering in the 2016 United States election and there were also suggestions it may have tried to do the same in the Brexit referendum.

Mr Martin has previously warned that Russian hackers have targeted the United Kingdom energy network, telecoms and the media in the past year. Martin goes on to explain that his center is "in discussions with Kaspersky Lab", to develop additional, independently verifiable measures to ensure that data from the United Kingdom isn't transmitted to Russian government.

"It seeks to target United Kingdom central government and the UK's critical national infrastructure".

Prime Minister Theresa May used a November speech to issue a message to Russian president Vladimir Putin that the worldwide community was aware of his country's efforts to spread fake news in an attempt to "sow discord in the West".

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However, his letter said most people and companies in the United Kingdom were not under threat of state-backed cyber attacks, but rather from criminal gangs.

In an email to 290,000 online banking customers on Saturday (2 December), Barclays said: "The UK government has been advised to remove any Russian products from all highly sensitive systems classified as secret or above".

The guidance continued: "We will be transparent about the outcome of those discussions with Kaspersky Lab and we will adjust our guidance if necessary in the light of any conclusions". "There are no facts about that".

The guidance quickly caused other problems for Kaspersky's United Kingdom outfit, as British banking giant Barclays has written to customers to advise it's discontinuing an offer of free Kaspersky software for users of its online banking services.

"There's nearly no installed base of Kaspersky AV in central government", he said.

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