A recent report suggests there may be ties between a Russian cyber security company and Russian government intelligence operations.
The University of Nebraska Information Technology Services Information Security Office report released on Monday, Oct. 9, said the Russian cybersecurity software company Kaspersky Lab was involved in the suspicious activity.
The ITS Information Security Office raised an alarm on Canvas Monday night, as the activity directly affects any students who are users of Kaspersky’s products, including its well-known antivirus software.
After examination of Kaspersky, the deputy secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, Elaine Duke, issued a plan to remove Kaspersky's products from federal executive branch departments and agencies.
Public warnings regarding the lab have been issued on behalf of the Department of Homeland Security nationwide. The House of Representatives and Senate have also taken action by implementing legislation banning the U.S. military from owning or using the cybersecurity software company’s products.
The Department of Homeland Security said Kaspersky poses a threat to national security if a collaboration with the Russian government exists. This threat jeopardizes federal information and information systems across the country.
Kaspersky's antivirus software requires broad access to files when installed. This access can be exploited and compromised by cyber actors, including Russian intelligence.
Although the potential threat Kaspersky poses to users is still debatable, ITS recommends the use of an antivirus program that meets the university’s current standards in order to be granted access to the university’s network. The university takes this step in order to prevent malicious programs from spreading across computers with access to internet and email services.
The Department of Homeland Security is offering Kaspersky Labs an opportunity to submit a written response concerning the threat, but until then, the university will continue to warn students, faculty and staff.
ITS recommends students stay cautious of the potential threat. The office suggests affected students, faculty and staff take specific steps.
“The University of Nebraska provides antivirus solutions free of charge to its students, faculty and staff at all locations for both university-owned and personally-owned devices,” the ITS statement reads.
The university recommends using Norton by Symantec antivirus software and provides it for free to students, faculty and staff.To access the free antivirus software, they can visit the ITS website and look under the services tab. The website then redirects users to download links for their device’s appropriate version.
The Symantec software is compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux systems.
ITS recommends Symantec, Norton, McAfee and AVG antivirus products to ensure proper protection against viruses, trojans and worms.
Students, faculty and staff should contact ITS if they have any specific questions or concerns regarding the antivirus software.