China has excluded Symantec Corp and Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved antivirus software suppliers to limit the use of foreign technology.

Cyber espionage is the first concern of government, China and US exchanged in the months reciprocal accusations on a series of hacking campaign conducted with the purpose of stealing sensitive information. According to the People’s Daily agency, China has excluded American Symantec Corp and Russian Kaspersky Lab from a list of approved defensive software suppliers, the decision seems to be in line with the decision of Chinese Government to limit the use of foreign technology fearing cyber espionage.

The government’s procurement agency “has excluded Symantec & Kaspersky” from a list of security software suppliers, while it has approved the supply of other five Chinese anti-virus software brands:

  1. Qihoo 360 Technology Co
  2. Venustech
  3. CAJinchen
  4. Beijing Jiangmin
  5. Rising

In time I’m writing, Kaspersky representatives revealed that the company is working with the Chinese Government understand the reason of the exclusion, while Symantec hasn’t commented the decision.

“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.” said Kaspersky spokesman, Alejandro Arango.

The Reuters media agency revealed last week the Government of Beijing has updated the list of technology vendors whose products are approved for use by the nation’s massive central government. It is obvious that the decision is also a direct consequence of Snowden leaks that revealed the aggressive conduct of the NSA in cyber espionage on foreign states.

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Many documents released by Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA was implanting backdoors in hardware and software product to maintain persistence on the products sold to foreign governments by US companies, for this reason Chinese authorities are promoting the use of Chinese IT products

It is not the first time that Symantec was involved in dispute between China and US, in the past the company decided to break its joint venture with Huawei fearing repercussion on its business with the US Government.

“The company [Symantec] does not break out sales in China. Revenue in its Asia Pacific region dropped 10 percent to $1.2 billion in its most-recent fiscal year, which ended in March. Other U.S. firms including Cisco Systems Inc, International Business Machines Corp and Microsoft Corp have encountered challenges in China since Snowden began leaking documents about U.S. surveillance programs last year.” states the Reuters.

This decision comes a few months after the Chinese authorities have banned the use of Windows 8 for Government Computers, the ban is not extended to private environment and its reason is officially the fear to lose support for the operating system once dismissed like it is happening with Windows XP.

Pierluigi Paganini