Germany's Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) said it has no evidence to support allegations Russia had used antivirus software made by Moscow-based Kaspersky Lab to spy on the United States.
"There are no plans to warn against the use of Kaspersky products since the BSI has no evidence for misconduct by the company or weaknesses in its software," BSI said in a statement on Wednesday.
The BSI, which uses Kaspersky products, was responding to an article in The New York Times on Tuesday that detailed how Israeli intelligence had gained access to Russian government hackers' computers in 2014 and determined they were using the antivirus software to spy on the US government.
Widely used antivirus software
The Russian operatives were reportedly using a Kaspersky antivirus program, which is widely used to scan a computer for malicious files, as a quasi-search engine to scan for codenames of US intelligence programs. Israel immediately told the US about the breach.
The US Department of Homeland Security ordered all US government agencies to stop using Kaspersky products last month. It said it was worried that the Russian government had possibly compromised the firm.
The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that the US National Intelligence Council (NIC) had told NATO allies that it believed Russia's intelligence service, the FSB, had "probable access" to Kaspersky data on company customers and the antivirus source code.
US wonders who is in charge at Kaspersky
The NIC reportedly said the FSB could use that access to hack sensitive US government and industrial networks.
Kaspersky Lab has denied any vulnerability to government influence. "Kaspersky Lab has never helped, nor will help, any government in the world with its cyberespionage efforts," the company said on Tuesday.
Eugene Kaspersky, a businessman and former Russian Defense Ministry official, founded Kaspersky Lab in 1997. Around 400 million people worldwide use the company's software.
Moscow has been accused of staging cyberattacks against the US and EU countries in recent years. Washington lawmakers and the intelligence community have repeatedly said Russia tried to influence the US presidential election in 2016 through a targetted hacking campaign.
amp/sms (AFP, Reuters)