Pentagon “Do-Not-Buy” List Warns Against Software Originating in Russia and China

In an effort to “eliminate equipment of Russian and Chinese origin,” according to Bloomberg, the Pentagon “has an expanding ‘do-not-buy’ software list” aimed at ensuring potentially vulnerable software packages aren’t being fielded in sensitive federal environments.

DOD is said to have “started putting the list together six months ago and had to work closely with the intelligence community to identify the equipment and pinpoint origin,” according to Ellen Lord, acquisitions chief at DOD.

"What we are doing is making sure that we do not buy software that is Russian or Chinese provenance, for instance, and quite often that is difficult to tell at first glance because of holding companies," Lord said. "We have identified certain companies that do not operate in a way consistent with what we have for defense standards."

Though DOD has not released an official list, to this point, software developed by Kaspersky Labs, creator of  widely-used anti-virus products available for both consumer and enterprise use, made headlines over the past year following revelations that the company has direct links to Russian intelligence operations. Congress subsequently passed legislation prohibiting government use of Kaspersky software.

Other companies that have faced similar scrutiny include ZTE Corp and Huawei, both Chinese companies. The U.S. previously banned purchases of ZTE products after it both violated American sanctions against Iran and North Korean, then subsequently lied about it. Bloomberg notes that, separate from DOD efforts, “the compromise fiscal year 2019 defense authorization bill, H.R. 5515, would ban the government from buying and using any equipment made by the two Chinese telecommunications companies.”

According to Lord, “"It really speaks to cyber security writ large, which is one of our greatest concerns right now. This is a challenge for us in terms of how to deal with the industrial base, particularly small companies who don’t always have the resources."

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