Symantec and Kaspersky Lab have become the latest tech firms to be kicked off the Chinese Government’s approved list, according to an unconfirmed report in the country’s media.
The People's Daily newspaper broke the news at the weekend in a report that claimed that local supplies including Qihoo 360, Venustech, CAJinchen, Beijing Jiangmin and Rising would from now on be the preferred software for antivirus duties.
The news seems to have surprised both firms, which have until now have been approved suppliers for desktop security.
"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," Reuters quoted Kaspersky Lab’s PR representative Alejandro Arango as saying.
As for Symantec, the roots of its Chinese troubles could go back as far as the dissolving of its long-term security joint venture with Huawei in 2012 which at the time was blamed on the decision by the US Government to share cyberthreat data with key firms. This was seen as being incompatible with being a partner with a major Chinese firm allegedly connected to the country’s Government.
“The Chinese Central Government Procurement Center temporarily rescinded its endorsements of all foreign security providers, leaving only Chinese vendors on the approved list,” Symantec said in a statement printed by The Guardian.
The limitation applied only to central government procurement and not to regional bodies or independent firms, it claimed.
If confirmed the exclusion of non-Chinese firms will inevitably be pinned on the growing paranoia about the role of technology in spying, both by the Chinese spying against US interests on one side, and alleged NSA spying on China return.
Huawei was accused of putting back doors in its equipment as part of an intelligence- gathering campaign against US firms, a suspicion extended to other Chinese suppliers. Earlier this year it emerged that the NSA might have planted back doors in US equipment being sold to China; by May China had gone as far as to name Cisco as a firm it believed was aiding US cyberwar activities.
Evidence of this is circumstantial at best but perception is all; home suppliers are seen as being a safer option regardless of whether their products work well at stopping a broader range of malware threats.
In May, the Chinese Government reportedly issued a ban on Windows 8 for its own use.