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China boots Symantec, Kaspersky off security vendor list

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Symantec and Kaspersky are off the Chinese government's list of approved software vendors and now are part of an ever-expanding listing of foreign tech companies accused of posing a threat to the country's security.

The removal of Russia-based Kaspersky and Symantec, a U..S company, left five other vendors on Chinese government's list of approved antivirus security software. Each of the five remaining companies is a Chinese software vendor.

In June, China's Public Security Ministry was said to have privately accused Symantec's software of having security vulnerabilities that would allow backdoor access onto machines running the program, according to an anonymous source. The source specifically named Symantec's Data Loss Prevention software, stating that the program was believed to have "high-risk" security loopholes in it.

"Symantec does not put hidden functionality or back doors into any of its technologies -- not for the NSA or any other government entities," stated Symantec.

Despite the distrust, Symantec said it will continue to bid on government contracts in China.

China has only temporarily renounced foreign software vendors and the exclusions didn't apply to regional governments or enterprises, Kaspersky stated in an email. Kaspersky said it was looking into the issues and has been in talks with Chinese authorities about about the exclusions.

China's distrust of foreign tech companies has largely been attributed to Edward Snowden's leaks about the United States' National Security Agency's invasive surveillance programs, but there has also been speculation suggesting that China has been using the Snowden leaks as an excuse to cripple outside competition and bolster Chinese tech firms.

The distrust of Symantec and Kaspersky comes after China banned Windows 8 from its government buildings and conducted a surprise investigation at several of Microsoft's offices around the country. More than 100 Chinese officials arrived at Microsoft's offices around China and seized computers, financial documents and archived data.

"Microsoft complies with the laws and regulations of every market in which we operate around the world and we have industry-leading monitoring and enforcement mechanisms in place to ensure this," said Microsoft after the raid. "Our business practices in China are designed to be compliant with Chinese law."

Robert Atkinson, president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, indicated that U.S. tech companies have been starting to feel vulnerable in China.

"The U.S. tech companies are much more concerned than they were two or three years ago," said Atkinson. "Most of them were looking with growing interest at the China market. Now they're much more concerned that the rug is being pulled out from under them."

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