Government spying, whilst frowned upon by many, may be an essential part of a nation’s security program these days, but the way in which it is implemented could have a knock-on effect for businesses.
Whilst there is plenty of commentary about the NSA and, to a lesser extent, GCHQ and other security agencies spying on citizens both foreign and domestic, there has been far less written about the consequences to companies and the potential fallout they may suffer from as a result of the Edward Snowden revelations.
Today, though, the continuing cyber tit-for-tat between China and the rest of the world, looks like it has claimed a couple of high profile victims in the form of Kaspersky and Symantec.
In a continuing drive to become self-reliant in the computer security arena China has now removed both of the aforementioned companies from its list of approved antivirus vendors. The China People’s Daily revealed, via Twitter, that:
“Govt procurement agency has excluded Symantec & Kaspersky f[ro]m a security software supplier list, all 5 in are f[ro]m China”
From now on the country only approves security products and services from five Chinese companies – Beijing Jiangmin, CAJinchen, Qihoo 360 Technology, Rising and Venustech – for use by government bodies.
China has been progressively moving away from foreign products and services ever since Snowden first began leaking details about the NSA’s surveillance programs. Earlier this year the country banned Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system from government computers after branding it as “a threat to China’s cybersecurity.”
Then, last month, a Chinese state broadcaster turned the spotlight onto Apple when they described the company’s iPhone as a “national security threat,” citing its location-tracking abilities as a means of uncovering state secrets.
More recently, Chinese government officials have made mysterious visits to Microsoft offices across the country with neither the US company or Chinese media offering up any information as to what the visits were about.
Symantec have yet to respond to the news but a Kaspersky spokesman told Reuters that:
“We are investigating and engaging in conversations with Chinese authorities about this matter. It is too premature to go into any additional details at this time.”
Of course its not all one-way traffic as the US has previously been quite vocal about what it sees as Chinese spying. In May of this year the DOJ indicted five Chinese army officers on counts of cyber espionage against US companies.