A Whitehall official told the newspaper it suspected Kaspersky might have been exploited by KGB successor organisation the FSB, which wants to spy on foreign individuals, including government and military employees.
Barclays is believed to have provided 2 million online banking customerswith the Kaspersky software for free as a way to boost their at-home security and prevent their bank accounts being hacked. However, a Barclays’ spokesman disputed the figure, stating it had provided the software to around 290,000 customers over the past decade.
There is no evidence that any of Barclays customers have had their private information accessed and the spokesman for the bank said: ‘We have never received any advice or guidance from GCHQ or the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in relation to Kaspersky.’
It is believed that Barclays is looking to cut ties with Kaspersky.
The NCSC, a GCHQ arm that deals with the private sector, told the newspaper that it ‘has never advised Barclays against the use of Kaspersky products’.
‘The NCSC is not a regulator and does not mandate or ban any products. Our certification schemes do not currently cover anti-virus or anti-malware services,’ it said.
There have been concerns about Kaspersky in the US where the US Department of Homeland Security banned the use of the software provider from all its government agencies.
Kaspersky Lab is based in Moscow and was founded by Eugene Kaspersky, a former KGB-trained intelligence expert. It has been accused of being used by Russian agencies to hack sensitive information and both US and Israeli intelligence services are believed to have gathered evidence of this.
The company released a statement to the FT that said it did not have ‘any inappropriate ties with any government’.
‘No credible evidence has been presented publicly by anyone or any organisation,’ said the organisation.
‘The accusation of any inappropriate ties with the Russian government are based on false allegations and inaccurate assumptions, including the claims about Russian regulation and policies impacting the company.’