Italy’s cybersecurity agency warns against use of Russian software

Italy warned on Tuesday that using computer software developed in Russia may carry a "technological risk" following the invasion of Ukraine.

Italy's cybersecurity agency warns against use of Russian software
Military and cyber specialists worry that Russia's invasion of Ukraine could lead to an outbreak of cyberattacks. Photo by THOMAS SAMSON / AFP

Italy’s cybersecurity recommended that users of Russian software should “diversify” when it comes to products such as anti-virus solutions, firewalls, email and cloud services protection, and other security services.

The agency urged caution, while noting there had been no evidence of a drop in quality of technological products and services supplied by Russian firms to date, and without mentioning specific names of companies.

“In such a growing level of international conflict, it is necessary to re-evaluate the risk, taking into account the changed scenario and considering the consequent adoption of mitigation measures,” wrote Italy’s computer security incident response team, a part of the national cybersecurity agency.

Italy’s warning came the same day that Germany’s cybersecurity agency recommended users avoid the antivirus software of Russia’s Kaspersky, warning it could be implicated, willingly or unwillingly, in hacking attacks.

READ ALSO: How Germany is preparing to ward off future cyberattacks

Military and cyber specialists worry that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could lead to an outbreak of cyberattacks, with major consequences for civilians in both countries and globally.

Italy’s agency said it was possible that the “reliability and effectiveness” of Russian computer security technologies could be jeopardised by ongoing events. The conflict could, for example, affect suppliers’ ability to “ensure adequate support for their products and services.”

READ ALSO: Why is Italy resisting EU sanctions against Russia over cyberattacks?

The agency said users should perform an urgent “risk analysis of cybersecurity solutions”.

The United States in 2017 prohibited government agencies from using software from Kaspersky, which rejects accusations it works with the Kremlin.

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Protests in Tuscany as regasification unit arrives

Protests continued in the coastal town of Piombino on Monday, after a new floating storage and regasification unit considered crucial to Italy's energy security arrived overnight.

Protests in Tuscany as regasification unit arrives

The arrival of the Golar Tundra, a liquefied natural gas (LNG) tanker which will serve as a floating storage and regasification unit, was greeted with scepticism by many local residents of the Tuscan coastal town of Piombino, in the province of Livorno.

Once installed, the regasifier will receive LNG from other carriers, which it will turn back into a gaseous state that can be fed into Italy’s national network.

Stefano Venier, chief executive of Italian gas group Snam, which owns the unit, said earlier this week it would be operational from May.

The project is key to Italy’s plan to reduce its reliance on Russian gas following the invasion of Ukraine, which has also seen it sign new deals with partners such as Algeria and Libya.

Former energy minister Roberto Cingolani said last year it was “essential for national security”.

Protesters at the port of Piombino, Tuscany, after LNG tanker Golar Tundra arrived overnight from Singapore. The banner reads “The disaster ship is in the port of Piombino”. (Photo by Filippo MONTEFORTE / AFP)

The location was chosen so gas can be easily transported to Italy’s heavily industrialised north, although the government says it is temporary, and that after three years it will move.

But there have been months of local protests against the project, and a small march was staged Sunday ahead of the vessel’s late-night arrival from Singapore.

Opponents say it will pose health and safety risks for those travelling between the port city of Piombino and the island of Elba, a popular holiday destination.

Environmental groups have also warned the project will slow down Italy’s transition to renewable energy.

The Golar Tundra can store 170,000 cubic metres of LNG and has an annual regasification capacity of five billion cubic metres, according to Snam.

“Five billion cubic metres of gas allows us to reach levels of self-sufficiency that allows families to think about lower bills,” said Tuscany President Eugenio Giani at the port.

Snam said last summer the unit could contribute around 6.5 percent of Italy’s needs, bringing national regasification capacity to over 25 percent of demand.

Russia provided around 40 percent of Italy’s gas in 2021 but this fell to 16 percent last year, officials say.